I[ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~~ |IRr;;:.-',' ,, .... -L;;....
The Baldwin Libnry
1 ~ ~ ~ ~ $X /d~w2 ~n~ K2Yt
" Olim meminisse jvabit."
RECOLLECTIONS OF AUTON HOUSE.
i Iookf for C)ilbren.
WITH ILL USTRA TIONS.
BY C. AUTON.
HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND COMPANY.
)be fSiberibte Pre##, Ctamnbribge.
BY HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN & CO.
All rights reserved.
The Riverside Press, Cambridge:
Electrotyped and Printed by H. O. Houghton & Co.
THESE reminiscences are written to satisfy the Auton who com-
posed them, and to amuse the Autons who may read them. Grown-
up people never cease to be young. They are only old boys
with hats and whiskers, and old girls with frizettes and eye-
glasses, that 's all. There are many Auton houses in the land,
and lots of Auton children wandering over it, but the original
Auton House is gone forever, and we can only catch the echo
of its revelry in our ear, and detect a smack of its good cheer
lingering on our tongue.
As an old-fashioned dish, now and then, is not unpalatable, so
perhaps a few chapters of reminiscences may be tolerated, pro-
vided they do not overtax our patience by their platitudes.
AUTON-BABYHOOD . 9
AUTON NURSERY.-"AUNT MOODY'- "DEBORAH" . 15
AUTON NURSERY.-THE ARK AND THE JOLLY-BOAT . 27
MR. AND MRS. JOHN HONZY . 36
ROOMS IN AUTON HOUSE . 41
THE MIDDLE CHAMBER. .. 48
WORK AND PLAY . 60
OUR MOTHER AUTON . . 66
AUTON PECULIARITIES 7;
AUTON KITCHEN . . 78
CHRISTMAS AT AUTON HOUSE 86
FATHER AUTON . . 90
POSTSCRIPT . 97
RECOLLECTIONS OF AUTON HOUSE.
Y name is C. Auton, a boy-baby. They
blew in my face to keep me alive. My
parents had so many children that my
advent troubled nobody but my mother
and Doctor Posset.
I struggled with existence in the
usual senseless manner. The first liq-
uid I ever swallowed was i spoonful of
I lay on Miss Betse Arnold's lap for hours, so poor and weak as
hardly to be able to keep together. The whole lookout of life was
sad amd unnatural I had no idea I should be such a fool, and was
ashamed to be unable to hold p my head. I found, also, to my
chagrin, that Miss etsey's supporting hand behind my ears was
necessary to keep me from tumbling together into a little heap.
My eyes got constantly crossed looking at Miss Betsey's gold spec-
tacles, and I was continually trying to see how wide I could stretch
my mouth, and what new grimaces I could make at invisible people.
10 RECOLLECTIONS OF AUTON HOUSE.
When I did this in my sleep Miss Betsey said it was the wind in my
stomach. My poor little knees were dreadfully red and mottled,
and when I lay on my back they came way up over my head.
I made frequent attempts to stick my finger through that soft
spot between the sutures on the top of my cranium. People who
saw my little finger-nail pronounced it the smallest on record.
"When Miss Betsey and I were alone I inspected my digits to dis-
cover what there was so awful cunning" about them. When the
parson came to see me nurse asked him if I was not a beauty."
The conscientious man, I am told, got over the difficulty by saying,
"Well, he is a baby." When I was sufficiently cohesive to bear pin-
ning, I passed my time driveling over Miss Betsey's finger, and
repeating the inane expression a-goo "
Grown folks know little about the real trouble of being dressed."
Prinking for balls and dressing for dinners is nothing to the ma-
tutinal lavations of babyhood. It is the bore of infancy. Miss
Betsey was a "cleaner" in every sense of the word; and when
she once put her hand to the plow" she went straight through,
regardless of screams, and kicking the air, and loss of breath.
Almost the first thing Miss Betsey did to me, after supporting
my neck in the bath-tub to prevent my head from bobbing under
the water, was to let me drip on the blanket. Then she rubbed my
back into a bright ruby-color, and adjusted the apology for a
shirt over that hunchy strip of wrinkled flannel which pinched my
sides underneath. This ruffled apology was three or four times
too wide for its length. Miss Betsey first folded it in a broad
plait in front, while I lay on my back; then, after I had been
flopped over on my face across her knees, like a batch of dough, she
took another broad plait in the rear. To keep this skimpy thing in
A UTON-BABYHOOD. 11
place, came the snug-fitting, long-skirted flannel petticoat sewed on
to a cotton waist, and pinned pretty tight. Miss Betsey always
meant her things" to stay. After this -like an extinguisher -
over the head came the gossamer linen slip with its frills and its
insertions, its armlets and its shield-pins, the three-cornered bib
"with its shield-pin, -- the enormous scarf with its shield-pin, and the
puff and the powder, and the hair parted at the side with a curl in
the shape of a rolling-billow on the top of the head. I was then
what was called dressed." But all these different layers of cloth-
ing pinched and squeezed me so that I screamed with discomfort.
Miss Betsey said C. Auton was hungry," so I was instantly laid
on my back again and filled up with milk and water. She dexter-
ously caught the overflowing streams in the pap-spoon, as they
meandered down the corners of my mouth, and scooped them clev-
erly back again into their proper channel, saying all the time,
"There! there!" Then I was jounced and trotted at a pleasant
family gait, until my little crowded, wheezing, and rolling stomach
had wrestled with and overcome the lacteal ocean poured into it -
when Miss Betsey eased up," and my internal revolutions ceased.
The deep mahogany cradle in which all
the Auton-babies passed their younger
days stands out like a telegraph pole
along the path of my earliest memory.
Oh, that wonderful cradle! Oh, that deep,
respectable cradle Oh, that rich, mahog- a \.
any cradle! Its color, acquired by age,
and the constant rubbing of little boys'
trousers, resembled that of the wonderful
gingerbread which Old Rosannah, the
12 RECOLLECTIONS OF AUTON HOUSE.
cook," used to bake for us, and nothing could be richer than that.
The hood of that rocking hammock had a graceful slant. The
brass handles at either end were bright as bright could be. The
roof was fastened with brass-headed nails, and the rockers had just
the right bevel to invite slumber. One of the roof-boards was
cracked, and the light played through the aperture first dark-
ness, then light, then darkness, then light as our baby-heads
went wagging to and fro while Miss Betsey did the rocking.
Talk about the sweet slumber which follows honest toil! It is
nothing to the peaceful naps in that old cradle. I can see it now
with its clean draperies wooing us to its soft embrace.
Before Miss Betsey laid us in it she leaned forward to make it
up," while the 'baby hung dangling and dozing over her left arm
the while. First came the long bolster-pillow in the body of the
cradle. Then the shorter one at the top, with a little soft valley in
it for the head to lie in. Then came the baby so sleepy so
limp with nodding He was laid gently on his right side, with his
thumb in his mouth and a small milk-blister on his upper lip. The
left arm-that one which had been vaccinated, and which was
beginning to "take"--softly placed outside the blanket. "Sh!
Sh! Sh! There! there!" The rocking stopped. C. Auton was
Miss Betsey Arnold was the queen of nurses. I shall never for-
get her kindness during that perilous epoch of evolution. I shall
ever thank her for winking at my sucking the wash-rag during my
morning bath, and while she was rummaging my basket for the next
layer of clothes. It was a sweet privilege -now so tardily ac-
knowledged. Dear Miss Betsey In a better land than this you
will reap your own nursing reward. That "innumerable caravan"
which you so gracefully welcomed on this side of life will greet you
there on the other with loud acclaim.
Big and little voices will call you Auntie."
My mother had twelve Auton-babies. One failed to attain ma-
turity, and that left eleven. They arrived in the following order:-
A. AUTON (girl),
S. AUTON (girl),
E. AUTON (girl),
H. AUTON (girl),
14 RECOLLECTIONS OF A UTON HOUSE.
None of these Autons were prodigies, although several of them
were unkimmon clever and "bright as buttons."
They were bred in a famous nursery, under the surveillance of
several quite remarkable women ; two of whom were named "Aunt
Moody" and "Deborah." In this wonderful spot they passed their
happy adolescence, until they were ready to cut loose from apron-
strings and do battle in the great world themselves.
For the amusement of other Autons throughout Christendom, I
will in the following chapters give a description of these two
Auton nurses, and some account of the marvelous transactions
which were performed in that celebrated mansion for the space of
a generation during which time different sets of Autons were
graduating from and entering into this blessed goal of their ten-
AUNT MOODY DEBORAH."
PRICELESS boon in the nursery next to a
good mother is a faithful nurse. I don't mean
that modern female nondescript with a Nor-
mandy cap and a mouth full of foreign language,
Bbut a kind-hearted Puritan, of good judgment
i and common sense; one who remembered Gen-
Sieral W ashington, and w ho lived for the children
afl under her care rather than for so much a month.
"Unhappily this species is nearly extinct buried
beneath the new kinks of modern nurseryism. Still, however, a
traveler here and there totters across our pathway, reminding us of
her long life of self-sacrifice and devotion.
"Aunt Moody and Deborah" were two old-fashioned, long-
suffering, sweet-tempered children-lovers. To us they seemed to
have been born in that nursery, or, for aught we knew, were coexist-
ent with the Flood. Whenever they "went out" it was as much of a
circumstance to the whole household as one of Mother Auton's even-
ing parties, or a Thanksgiving dinner. Whenever they dressed
up the children immediately stopped play, gathered about their
knees, and plied them with the most impertinent questions- handled
16 RECOLLECTIONS OF AUTON HOUSE.
and fingered their old finery with a license which the extraordinary
circumstances of the occasion alone warranted. "Aunt Moody" and
"Deborah were as much of an institution in the Auton nursery as
the old four-poster bedstead ; or the nursery closet where the medi-
cines were kept; or the top cupboard where the "balm and the
"catnip and the "elder sent out their perfume; or the rug by
the nursery fire where the boys
got to sleep on Saturday nights,
waiting to be washed; or the trun-
dle-bed under the big bed, where
Swe were all stowed away in peace,
-or any other of those house-
hold penates connected with our
earthly paradise. I can only speak
of "Aunt Moody" with a meas-
ured amount of assurance, as she
S /was associated with that former
regime, when the first stratum of
^ -- Autons held the nursery under
"\ their domination. The reign of
"Deborah" (which marked the epoch of the incursion of the
younger branch into the nursery which took possession, like the
ancient Huns, of what, to us, constituted the whole known world)
is the occasion affording me opportunity to speak with confidence
"Aunt Moody" was a little, clean, old woman with a very large
nose and a ruffled mob-cap not unlike Old Mother Hubbard's."
This cap had no strings, but was kept in place by a wide black rib-
bon with an Alsacian bow at the top of it, Originally she had had
AUTON NURSERY. 17
large quantities of double-chin, but this feature, through lapse of
years and cares of the nursery, had dwindled both in comeliness
and substance, so that it now served only as the plaything of the
younger children, who fondled it with tender emotion. To us
youngsters there was something strange and uncanny about Aunt
Moody, and we listened with bated breath to her stories of "Sister
Carstoff and Brother Ben," the sea-captain;
and this strangeness was only increased by the co
funniest-looking thumb which she had, and the
queerest sort of a big toe which we used to
catch sight of on Saturday nights, two facts -I
which completed the romantic and peculiar
impression of this old lady. But for all that oIA ,,U
she was a dear creature, self-sacrificing and
long-suffering, and to her unwearying counsel
and unremitting care the older Autons are in- \
debted for a good deal of their bringing-up." _-
"Whenever the children took the census of ",
the family Aunt Moody came next in order to
us. She was followed by Rosannah, the black
cook, and Freeborn (pronounced Fre'bun), the 3'e ')!,i J
black waiter, and the old wooden pump in the biVq-o
kitchen, and Sterling," the yellow-eyed cat, and the oval brick
oven, where the Sunday-morning breakfast was baked, and the
horseshoes hanging on the old crane, and the bright tin-kitchen be-
fore the wood fire, and the Johnny-cake board, and many other
objects of affection in Auton House of so much individualism and
character as to entitle them to a position as members of the family.
People said Aunt Moody had been married, and that there was a
18 RECOLLECTIONS OF AUTON HOUSE.
son or daughter in Swansea, or Rehoboth, or some other (to us)
foreign city. But if so Old Moody never turned up to dis-
turb her, and she was left unmolested to complete her blameless,
self-sacrificing mission untrammeled by any uxorious responsibil-
Aunt Moody wore a frizette, and T. Auton on one occasion
-- _- pulled it off,
S-i aged poll de-
S1/. j fense less and
bare, but the
.- p h o dear old body
It wo-l forgave him,
a and showed
n yn s: this forgive-
ness by snatch-
ing the same
Sboy off the
where he had
sat down and caught fire when, throwing him on the rug, she
" put him out with a pitcher of hot water.
It would be a subject for a clever artist to depict, this faithful
creature amidst a bevy of pretty boys and girls, moving hither,
and yon, settling disputes, soothing ruffled feelings, chiding the up-
roarious, and chasing unruly offenders under the bed. Her surest
method of dislodging them from this hiding-place was a coal of fire
in the tongs, which she would thrust into their lair, repeating all
the while her favorite oath, Burn yer boots! burn yer boots! "
AUTON NURSERY. 19
When Aunt Moody left Auton House forever, the nursery was
hung in sackcloth. Her loss seemed to us irreparable. No more
queer-looking big toes Saturday nights! No more funny-looking
thumbs to fondle! No more double-chins to caress! Our "dolls
were stuffed with sawdust." The night of her departure was kept
a secret from the younger children. The new nurse who was to
fill the gap left by our ancient friend was instructed to comfort
the disconsolate ones when they woke up by taking their hands,
as Aunt Moody used to do; but the ruse proved unavailing, for
the moment they missed that friendly but stubbed thumb on the
strange hand stretched out to them in the darkness they screamed
out, "Aunt Moody's gone !" "Aunt Moody's gone "Who is
this old thing in bed with us?" "We won't have you!" "We
hate you! And away went the blankets and the sheets, and out
20 RECOLLECTIONS OF AUTON HOUSE.
jumped a brood of young Autons, with heads like mops, in night-
gowns and night-drawers, howling like a pack of savages. That was
a night to be remembered.
EBORAII, or, as we called her, Deb-
---- 'rah," was a little brunette woman,
Weighing about one hundred and
twelve pounds, but every one of
Those pounds was a good one.
'/ Her whole life was a vicarious
-.- ^ one. She no more thought of
--- -"';--- neglecting her daily duty than
she did of omitting to wash our faces; and this was sometimes
rather a delicate operation, because our little noses would become
chapped and inflamed by the cold, and our grimy hands at night
AUTON NURSERY. 21
were, what she used to call, A sight to behold," the grime being
lackered on. Deborah's career was one prolonged exhibition of
self-sacrifice. See how much she did for us, and how very little for
For our sakes she kept in that nursery from morning till night
for over a generation.
She sat up till midnight ironing our collars and plaiting our ruf-
fles, while her parboiled thumbs
were bleeding from the cracks which
cold and constant washing had pro-
duced. She never had a good square
night's rest for thirty years.
For our sakes she had the worst
form of dyspepsia-eating her meals
so irregularly, and at unheard-of
hours. If necessary, she swept up
after us twenty times a day without
a whimper. She slept on the edge
of the bed until she became a callous
old woman. She warded off many
a maternal castigation, and meekly i, i '
allowed all of us to "pile on" her I 0I
back, to sop her scanty front hair
with water, twist it into curls and frizzles and comb it to death,"
while she, poor soul! was nodding from sheer exhaustion, and en-
during these indignities without a murmur. And what did she do
for herself ? She may have laid up her wages, but we did n't know
anything about that. She was content with one dull-colored gown,
and one apron for week days, and a Sunday one for other occasions.
22 RECOLLECTIONS OF AUTONV HOUSE.
If she ever had a lover we children must have frightened him
away. She had a brother "Ellerey," who was a truckman, and a
sister-in-law with one little stiff arm, whom she called Ruby," and
" Anna Maria," her niece, who was pretty, and had weak eyes, and
a pair of prunella shoes and that was all. The rest of her life and
the rest of her thoughts were devoted to us. And in return for it
we provoked her, and plagued her, and combed her hair all out, and
almost worried her life out, until she was thin enough to blow away,
and weary enough to lie down and die. If there is but one saint
in heaven Deb'rah is that one. If love, and devotion, and duty
ever bring their own reward there is a halo of glory about our
Deb'rah's head which can never fade away. She came from Tiv-
erton, and her complexion was sallow.
It is singular how an old nurse like this is indissolubly connected
in the memory with every act of one's youthful life. Reminiscences
of both joy and sorrow ever bring back with them that faded image.
Whenever W. Auton and I had new suits of clothes come home from
"Aunt Nancy Miller's" (the nursery tailoress) smelling of snuff and
beeswax, Deb'rah was the girl who first buttoned them up for us.
When March, April, and May came round, the season to take the
spring medicine," Deb'rah stood ready with the sulphur and mo-
lasses, to deal out to each child in procession that gritty sweetness, a
panacea for all ills. When a sudden attack of "stomach out of order"
made its hated appearance, and the lukewarm "salts," or the "debil-
itating" steeped physic, were set in the washbowl to cool, that same
long-suffering creature labored with us to be good boys and take
it," and stood ready with the bit of orange to clap in our mouths the
instant the dose was swallowed, and took us to her attenuated bosom
to comfort us, until the taste was out of our mouths.
A UTON NURSERY. 23
SOh that dreadful castor oil and ipecacuanha period Shall I
ever forget thee?" She brought forth the lukewarm draught.
There it was smoking and cooling in the white washbowl. We
stopped our play to sniff its odious contents. We turned up our
noses at the bare suggestion. We swore that we would never, no
never, take the darned stuff," but she begged and implored and
prayed us to "just go and swallow it like little men." But not
until we had struck her, and kicked her, and she had finally threat-
ened to call in Mother Auton, with that legendary medicine
spoon which either strangled the boy or lodged the dose safely in
his stomach, did we break furiously away from her apron-strings,
approach the villainous decoction, and, with faces resembling that
of Mephistopheles, drain the vile cup to the "bitter end."
24 RECOLLECTIONS OF AUTON HOUSE.
This subject of medicines naturally leads me into our great nur-(
sery-closet where all the different medicaments were kept. Whein
I call to mind the contents of the three shelves on the right-hand
side as you entered that closet, I wonder that there is a single Au-
ton left alive, or, at least, unparalyzed, to tell the tale. The first
sight revealed a stgar-bowl with no cover, which contained that
whitedd sepulchre" epsom salts. The syrup-of-squills bottle,
with its sugared nozzle, stood next to it. Then came Old Re-
liable," the castor-oil tank. How hard that dose was to swallow!
almost impossible to get all of it out from the table-spoon, yet
every bit had to be scooped into the mouth with our upper lip be-
fore the orange came to take the taste out. Here stands the spirits
of nitre for fever, and there the essence of peppermint for stomach-
ache. Next to this comes the deadly paregoric for crying babies,
then a little bottle labeled Balsam of Life," then a dreadfully
bad-tasting compound called Elixir Salutis," next to this stands
the essence of red lavender --jolly on sugar! Then, away back
there, in a round glass bottle, stood the Elixir Pro," we used to
call it Lex'y Pro." This last medicine was child's play to
that horrid Picry," ah so bitter Deb'rah called it Verm'fug,"
and it was a good one. And after this what we called Epekak,"
and, oh my! how effective. Then came all sorts and kinds of pill
boxes and salves and cough mixtures. One of these compositions
in an earthen jar, called "Manton's Compound," was rather pala-
table. The licorice part was So-so to take, but its other ingre-
dients made us sick. Then followed white papers of senna leaves
and manna, with here and there a bit of stick-licorice and a small
lump of manna. This latter substance we always believed to be the
true manna eaten by the Israelites for forty years in their wander-
SAUTON NURSERY. 25
\ngs. Then came packages of boneset and thoroughwort. Then a
bottle of apple-balsam for wounds. Then old pieces of flannel skirts
and other things to dip into hot rum when folks were in pain.
Then New England rum. Then a broken teacup containing Bur-
gundy pitch to spread on plasters for the smalls of backs," and
the old case-knife to spread it on with lying beside the cup. Then
came lint and bees-
wax, and balsam of
Tolu, and dry mag-
nesia in square bot-
tles, for heart-burn, In
and ever so many
more frightful nos-
trums. It is a cause
for thanksgiving that
we survived all these
"lions in our path." / -
On the left side of e
this closet lay the ,
sweet herbs brought to us every year by old Miss Burden and
Nancy Speywood. There was the aromatic catnip, and the cooling
balm, the sweet everlasting, and the bitter chamomile. I shall
never forget the refreshment which Deb'rah's cold balm-tea, poured
from a broken-nosed teapot, gave to our parched throats, after the
Doctor had forbidden us to touch cold water, during fever attacks.
These fragrant bundles of nature's perfumery were piled, one
above another, on the upper shelves of the old closet, in clean, white,
cotton bags;' and they served as agreeable foils to counteract the
deadly characteristics of the opposite side.
26 RECOLLECTIONS OF A UTON HOUSE.
Among all this scented herbage we passed many a fleeting hour.
W. Auton (boy), beautiful as the day, with chestnut curls and rosy,
pouting lips, would climb to the top shelf, flageolet in hand, and
buried there in this fragrant retreat would discourse long repeti-
tions of Lord dismiss us and Auld lang Syne," in order to
drown the squeals of the younger children and the fat girls of
the family, who, acting out the play of market," were making
believe being butchered for Christmas, and cut up into joints by
the older boys.
THE ARK AND THE JOLLY-BOAT.
OAH'S ark and the jolly boat, by
S which I mean the big four-poster and
the trundle-bed underneath it, have
sheltered more square yards of chil-
"dren within their wide; straddling
sides than any other two private beds
in New England.
To enter the ark we needed a chair,
to board the jolly-boat we had only
to tumble in. The trundle-bed was
shoved under the big one during the
day and drawn out at night. These beds held different sets of chil-
dren at different epochs. Once the two afforded nightly domicile
for no less than six boy and girl Autons. Besides these, Deb'rah,
of course, was curled up somewhere on the edge of the bed, on a
space scarcely wide enough to rest a teacup. In the morning the
" baby," whoever it might be, was set in the midst of the charmed
circle, to which was often added the new kitten, a fresh puppy,
or somebody's black boy. Bottled up within this company was a
tremendous amount of latent fun and animal spirits, ready at any
28 RECOLLECTIONS OF AUTON HOUSE.
instant to break out and join the dreadful revelry" about to
begin. It is impossible to describe all the wonderful plays and
journeys taken, the babels and bedlams let loose the shootings
and shouting and screams which proceeded, on such occasions,
from the warm depths of these resting-places of my childhood. 1
will endeavor, however, to give an idea of several of the more
prominent and fascinating fandangoes, as specimens of the rest.
I must premise this description by making a
remark about the nursery night-dress of that
period. All the girls wore nightcaps with ruf-
fles on the edge. As to that matter Mother
Auton and Deb'rah were all in the fashion;
mother's cap was high behind, the ruffles com-
ing all over her face and concealing every feat-
ure but her nose, while Deb'rah's was smaller,
7 the whole family had clambered across her face
to see who could be first at the fire to dress.
All the boy Autons wore night-drawers, tied
behind with running strings, once at the neck,
: and then again at the waist. These garments
__ always gaped a little in the back, but this
only made it more fun to jump out of them
after they had been tied, and then stick our legs quickly back again
before Deb'rah saw us.
Every Auton child said his prayers.
First came the prayer beginning "Now another day is gone."
In this petition there are lines like these: See how my childhood
runs to waste;" "My sins how great a sum "
AUTON NURSERY. 29
This passage puzzled us much, and we used to inspect each other
very closely to see if we were actually running to waist." We
concluded, also, that as the prayer said that our sins were a "greater
sum they probably must be, although we failed to see the force of
the expression. One of the children explained it by saying it had
" something to do with salvation," and that settled it. After this
came the prayer, Now I lay me," etc.
To us, this was some sort of an animal, a Llama, which we resem-
bled, lying down to sleep. Religion seemed queer to us then, and
came hard. After our devotions we prepared ourselves for the night
and generally consumed large quantities of cold, shortened, flour
Johnny-cake, which made us very thirsty, and got the bed full of
dried crumbs. These would roll under us and prick our warm rosy
skins, so that Deb'rah had to come and scrape them up in the palm
of her hand, while we squatted on the outside of the bed in our
night-clothes. These operations, preliminary to sleep, ended by a
"drink of water" all round, and Auton Nursery then became act-
H. Auton was an older boy than some of the others. He slept
in the ark, and had his own way on the back side of it. He
used to tell marvelous stories of what he had never seen. His nar-
rations of imaginary puppies which we were to have if we were
good boys, and vast quantities of maple sugar which some day or
other perhaps would fall to our share, kept us awake for hours.
He was a neat and talented fellow, having always an eye to the
" main chance."
Cold shortened Johnny-cake was a compound intimately associ-
ated with my nursery life. It was baked on a board, and was made
of flour instead of meal, with no leaven. Although slightly dyspep-
30 RECOLLECTIONS OF A UTON HOUSE.
tic in its character, we all rose superior to its attacks. We were al-
ways hungry, and partook of it at unearthly hours. We would bite
it out into all manner of shapes, such as the heads of animals, birds,
and men. While we ate,
if not in bed, we never
Kept still, but walked
about in procession, hop-
ping from one figure on
the carpet to another,
Splaying a game called
"<2 H "Poison." This Johnny-
cake figured largely in
our morning bed-sdances.
H. Auton rigged a pulley
on the top of the south-
west post of the big bed,
: hitching it on the cur-
")-a tain-hook and bringing
--2: ,down the cords to be se-
"" cured around the back
of the high head-board.
To this apparatus was attached a basket, which H. Auton filled
with the precious Johnny-cake and hoisted to the mast-head, hold-
ing in his own hands, under his pillow, the governing ropes.
The contents of this mysterious pannier were to be lowered at
daylight, and administered to such individuals in the bed as the
autocrat should himself determine.
With the early dawn came a little rustling from all quarters of
the big bed and the jolly-boat. A ghostly procession of white forms
AUTON NURSERY. 31
wended its way from all quarters. The trundle-bed gave up its
little citizens. The front side and middle of the ark were all
agog, the youthful crew climbing over the jaded anatomy of Deb'rah,
and nestling down around the Johnny-cake owner with eager jaws.
No sweet-bread or fillet of later years was ever so sweet as that lit-
tle bit of cold, indigestible compound doled out to us on those dark
and early mornings, as we sat, like savages, in our night-gowns,
crouched around our Johnny-cake chief.
This primitive breakfast fitted us for an arduous journey "over
the- Andes," which we proceeded to do at once. There was a pict-
ure in one of our nursery books representing a long train of mules,
laden with merchandise, toiling over the difficult passes of the An-
des, and carrying to tide-water the produce of the country. This
old wood-cut filled our youthful imaginations with a desire to act it
32 RECOLLECTIONS OF AUTON HOUSE.
The girls and boys, with Ben Jackson, the negro, on hands and
knees, in night-gowns and night-drawers, the oldest and biggest
first, and then the little ones following on, with the black boy fill-
ing up the rear, would start from the southwest bed-post of the big
bed, commencing at the top of the bolster on our trip over the
mountains. Plunging under the bed-clothes we wriggled our way,
one after the other, down to the bottom of the bed. Then we
pulled away the ends of the blankets and the sheets down there,
and wormed ourselves out from under these to the bottom-ends
of the bed-clothes of the trundle-bed below. Then we passed up
through the whole length of
These to the trundle-bed bol-
"ster, where we emerged, one
after another, in a very dis-
[f, / heveled condition. Taking
/ breath at this big pillow, we
/_. continued our wearisome
march over the outside of the
little bed, mounted the foot of
the ark, and pushed on to our
first starting-point. For merchandise, we carried on our backs all
the pillows we could get, the kitten and the puppy slung in hand-
kerchiefs across our backs, and we presented quite a distressed and
business-like appearance, as the long line of ruddy boys and girls,
neighing and braying like horses and mules, would disappear and
emerge at regular intervals from the stuffy bed-clothes.
Suddenly some new idea would strike the procession, when,
presto away flew puppy and kitten, up went the bed-clothes, out
from all parts of the blankets would come white legs and night-
AUTON NURSERY. 33
gowns (the disjecta membra of Auton nursery), which came to a
standstill before the wood fire.
There is little doubt but these expeditions thoroughly digested
all the shortened Johnny-cake,"
which we had consumed, and made
us ravenous for the hot breakfast
which Rosannah had been preparing
in the kitchen below.
In Auton nursery was a famous
stand made of oak, with a crack
through the middle of its
round top. This space
was always filled with the
remains of the soap and
sand left by Deb'rah's /
scrubbing-brush, and which we used to pick
out with pins. Around this modest bit of
furniture we took our tea. It was an in-'
teresting and healthy sight to watch a / I'
bevy of girls and boys in high, checked
aprons and ruffled collars, with red cheeks and shining curls, crim-
34 RECOLLECTIONS OF AUTON HOUSE.
son, pouting lips and butter-teeth (as we used to call the second
set in front), chatting like magpies; all drinking, eating, and talk-
ing at once; all good-natured, happy, and uproarious. No political
questions disturbed our brains, no dictum of society divided our
councils. The shadow of the cow's foot in our milk and water was
the most serious object which attracted our attention, and a healthy
.J |rivalry as to who could
bite out the greatest
number of the little
hearts from Mr. Co-
rey's cookies in a given
"-- -. .. number of minutes
I Pl alone created excite-
ment. As the south-
west bed-post was the
I I famous starting-point
[i--"i L- for all our imaginary
bed expeditions, so the
northeast one was the pole around which W. Auton, alias Ante-
lope," and Ben Jackson, the black boy, performed their celebrated
flying act. This circus-trick consisted in running from the bolster,
in stocking-feet, catching hold of the post with the left hand and
swinging completely about in a circle through the air, landing
on the bed again. Antelope and Ben were the two athletes of
the nursery, and were respected and obeyed accordingly. Against
these same bed-posts, also, the children pressed their oranges, after
reaming holes in them with their fore-fingers, preparatory to the
kneading and sucking process.
Our favorite nursery disease was sore throat. This malady ena-
AUTON NURSERY. 35
bled us to stay away from school and wear flannel about our necks;
yet we were not ill enough to leave off play, nor too ill to forego
Malaga grapes and lemonade. It was an ailment possessing suffi-
cient advantages to be prayed for, and the boy fortunate enough
to have swollen tonsils was an ob-
ject of envy. A croupy cough was
another coveted disease. So desir-
able was this that W. Auton per-
suaded his younger sister to open the
nursery window on a cold winter's
day in order that he might hang his
head out and hoarsenn up," as we
These infantile devices often over-
shot the mark, keeping us in bed for \
weeks. I owe a debt of gratitude,
however, to raisins, which no amount
of indigestion will ever eradicate.
This fruit certainly made our path-
way to knowledge an easier one, for those sudden stomach-aches,
which were invented to come on about school-time, were imme-
diately driven away by a small fat bunch of these grapes, together
with a large greening apple stuffed into our pockets to eat at
MR. AND MRS. JOHN HONZY.
N interesting play in Auton nursery was called
S" Mr. and Mrs. John Honzy." The popular
element about it was that it required the
full strength of the company" to bring
out its entire capacity for fun. The game
/ consisted in acting a chapter in the life of
grown-up people as we imagined it to be.
Mr. and Mrs. Honzy were H. Auton and E.
l Auton (girl). Then came the children: W.
'. Auton, H. Auton (girl), and C. Auton, to-
S gether with Ben Jackson, the black boy.
',, A. Auton was the family horse, and was
/ ,/ kept in the closet, while the kitten had on
a night-cap and personated the neighbor's
child. We were all put to bed on the nur-
sery floor, and covered up with baby-blankets, towels, newspapers,
and everything which could serve as bed-clothing. The children
were instructed to snore as loudly as possible, and one of them to
yell at the top of his lungs in order to wake up the parents, who
were curled up on the floor in the corner, over by the bedroom
door. Mrs. Honzy, like a good mother, of course, sat up and took
her screaming child in her lap. By turning him over in all possible
MR. AND MRS. JOHN HONZY. 37
ways she discovered a large, imaginary pin sticking into him. This
she extracted, apparently with great difficulty, and then proceeded
to warm the baby's drink. Putting a bath-towel about her pet's
neck for a bib, she commenced to feed it with pounded cracker and
milk. The child was taught to reject this food in regular baby
fashion, which immediately provoked Mrs. Honzy to such a frenzy
that her darling was thrown on its back, and the
cracker stuffed down its throat at the point of the
bayonet. The milk escaping from its mouth was
caught in the pap-spoon in the most approved
" Aunt Betsey" style, some of it turned back
again into the mouth, while a greater quantity
found its way down the neck and the towel-bib.
The babe was then whipped, shaken, and jounced
down on to its floor-bed, and went to sleep with
its thumb in its mouth after two or three lugu-
brious and long-drawn sobs. After a very dis-
tressing night all the family woke up and went
through the motions of dressing, and washing
themselves with invisible water. Every child _j
was then immediately afflicted with sore fingers,
lame arms, and rheumatic legs. So Mother Honzy C
brought out her invaluable salve, made of orange-peel, soap, and
saliva. This she proceeded to spread upon bits of linen and bound
up the fingers and aching joints of the Honzy tribe.
Such a regiment of white cots and bandaged toes was never
seen except after a battle. It was time now to go a huckle-berry-
ing." So the family prepared itself for this important excursion.
The girls were dressed up in all the poke bonnets, high-crowned
38 RECOLLECTIONS OF AUTON HOUSE.
"leghorns," green veils, and old calashes that could be gathered
from the nursery-closet bandboxes, while wide lace collars and
stiff little "ji;-'.','-." made to fill out the mutton-legged sleeves of
our grandmother's dresses, were freely brought into requisition.
Enormous silk bags, and mother's scissors and pincushion, were hung
at the side, spectacles were put on nose, and old-fashioned mits
adorned the hands. To these were added wide pieces of different-
colored morocco, laced up over the wrists.
Jo1rn M ^on
medicines and eating his provender of pounded soda-cracker, and
Old Buff," the family horse (A. Auton), was now led out from
the nursery-closet stable, where he had been browsing among the
medicines and eating his provender of pounded sods-cracker, and
sour sorrel pulled from the upper garden." He neighed, and
whinnied, and stamped his feet on the children's toes, just like any
MR. AND MRS. JOHN HONZY. 39
grown-up horse in the city. He kept off imaginary flies with his
impromptu tail, made from a bundle of green lily-stalks pulled from
the same upper-garden. A pair of bits made of pine wood were
put in his mouth, and a string of jingly-jongly bells hung about his
neck. A large dinner-bell was now put aboard the chairs which
served for a family wagon, and the Honzys were ready to start.
Tin kettles, toy pails, and other nursery utensils were freely
brought into use to hold the imaginary huckle-berries, and thus
equipped the signal was given to commence the journey. The
horse began to trot up and down. The sleigh-bells started their
jargon. The elder Honzys cried Whoa! and Get up The younger
Honzys screamed out that they already saw the fruit growing on
every side. Ben Jackson, the black boy, dropped his hat, and had
to get off and pick it up, while the neighbor's kitten, in its night-
cap, mewed with delight at the expected huckle-berries. The old
nursery floor rose and fell with the stamping and galloping. The
air resounded with mews and screams. The big bell was contin-
ually ringing for people to clear the track," while poor toothless
Deb'rah was vainly beating the air, imploring us to cease the
racket." Such a babel brought its usual quietus in the forms of
Mother and Father Auton, who appeared at the nursery door and
commanded silence, you might hear "a pin drop in an instant.
This interruption was lucky, because the party had just arrived
at the berrying ground," and were already engaged in picking the
largest specimens from all sides of the room. The pails were filled
in no time," and the family were at home again in a twinkling."
Somebody squeezed the kitten in the wrong place, which caused
the neighbor's child to squall, leap from the flying vehicle, and rush
under the trundle-bed with H. Auton's night-cap on, and its long,
40 RECOLLECTIONS OF AUTON HOUSE.
black apron petticoat, half off, dragging behind it. The cots"
and the "bandages were flung to the four winds. The old toggery
was dropped on the floor for Deb'rah to pick up, while Mr. and Mrs.
Honzy lost their assumed authority at once, and mixed with demo-
cratic familiarity among their Auton brethren.
ROOMS IN AUTON HOUSE.
TRANGE to tell, Auton House had but one
bedroom. There were lots of other rooms,
such as the Green-room" and the Din-
S' ing-room and the "B ack and Front D raw -
ing rooms," and the Library," and the
"Middle chamber," and the "White-room,"
"and Mother's room," and the Baby-
Shouse," and Rosannah's room," and the
"boys' room," and Fre'bun's room," and
the Glass-house," and the Nursery,"
___ but only one Bedroom." In this cham-
'' ber all the strange new maids slept and
got up early. It was as cold as a barn," and had a fire-board in
front of the fire-place with a painting upon it representing my
father and uncle when children holding a steel-gray squirrel perched
on their hands, and attached to a small chain of the same gray color
dangling over their fingers. The boys wore large ruffled collars
and roundabout jackets buttoned up to the throat, with their hair
cut short in front, leaving it long behind. In this room, also, was
a tall wicker basket which held soiled linen; W. Auton used to leap
from the floor upon it, as far as the rim, where, see-sawing for a
moment, he would pitch head-foremost into the depths below. This
42 RECOLLECTIONS OF AUTON HOUSE.
bedroom opened out of the nursery, and was peeped into but
shunned by all the young ones" as a haunted spot. It was so
near to our nursery paradise, yet such a poky locality, that these
two chambers stood in our vocabulary for the good and the
"wicked place." We peopled
this latter neighborhood, with all
those dreadful characters which
disturbed our infant imaginations,
L4 and shuddered lest at that very
S71[ -t- --,- I instant that gloomy abode might
S- conceal a horrid creature, known
I 7to all the children by the name of
l Bloody-bones," who went about
killing babies and hiding their
__ -' bodies under the sand-hill in the
/) rear of Aunt Malbone's house.
S l There were connected with each
'' 7 of the chambers in Auton House
most delightful and pleasing asso-
ciations. With the little Green-room in particular these associa-
tions were especially charming. In it were concentrated all the
wit and frolic of Auton House. On Sunday evenings the pleasant-
est set of people gathered there. On either side the broad hearth
sat our parents- the dearest, the funniest, the most congenial of
spirits. My father Auton reclined in the great arm-chair, close by
the long window, out of which one of his hot hands was always
hung to cool, while he puffed his aromatic cigar, and recounted to
us his wonderful story, of being shut up in a tomb when he was a
boy, and of his playing a tune upon the great iron doors with the
ROOMS IN A UTON HOUSE. 43
thigh-bones which he found scattered about him. As the evening
wore on in trooped his favorite nephews, Ned and Ben, William and
George, Can and Levi, to smoke the Sunday pipe. To these were
added a large detachment of home production, and the younger
fry from the nursery completed the family
party. The air was full of fragrant smoke I
(which some folks dislike). The sputtering fire '
sent forth its cheerful blaze. The round con-
vex mirror, with its black dragons and gilded
sconces, reflected the genial brightness, while
the flickering light on the Bear picture," ,'
"The Marriage of The Virgin," The Two --
Mackerel," and The Horatii and the Curatii,"
completed a scene of comfort and good cheer.
These evenings began with a bountiful tea.
The family was so large, however, that we
"kids" were kept in check in the nursery
until the older parties had finished. Listening
and girj.lin. at the top of the stairs, we awaited
the signal to descend. Then, whooping and _
shouting, sliding on balusters, three steps at a *
time, while poor Deb'rah was beseeching us to
make less noise, the invading host came thun-
dering down to tea. Fish-balls, brown-bread toast, hot biscuits,
baked beans, Indian pudding, and quince marmalade vanished be-
fore these hungry Philistines -as quickly as a western wheat field
succumbs to the advance of the caterpillar. That it was possible
to pack into a child's stomach, holding a pint, more than enough
to fill a quart, was beautifully demonstrated whenever an empty
44 RECOLLECTIONS OF AUTON HOUSE.
Auton boy came within hail of any article in the above category.
A "symposium of smoke" was instituted in the little Green-room
after tea. The hospitable front door constantly admitted some fresh
addition to the genial company either Tris," who hitched
i "Katie in the chaise at the tree-
/ box, or kind friends from over the
bridge," increased the number of
welcome guests. Auton nursery was
now drawn upon to furnish amuse-
ment. One boy spoke On Linden
when the sun was low" with so
much gesticulation and fervor that
it was dangerous to go near him.
S Another one drew the forms of ani-
mals in the air at lightning speed,
Sand with so many flourishes and cur-
licues that the company kept them-
selves at a respectful distance from
his revolving fist. The youngest
S of all, with hair sticking up like a
.,_ feather duster, whistled cleverly
quite difficult airs, keeping time with his fingers on the door-panel,
which he used for a drum; while still another cut with scissors, from
black paper, capital likenesses of the company in the shortest possi-
ble time. After these harmless performances candles were brought,
and we all repaired to the drawing-room to sing psalm tunes, after
the ancient New England fashion. The old organ had stood in this
room so long that it seemed to be a relation of the family. It had
a fluted front of flowered cherry damask, which is as intimately as-
ROOMS IN AUTON HOUSE. 45
sociated with my boyhood as was Aunt Moody's stubbed thumb, or
Deb'rah's scanty front hair which we had combed almost out of her
head. The organ had also a crowd of funny ivory stops, labeled
" Tutti" and Haut-boy and "Reed," which squeaked and talked
to us in a most familiar manner, and which we regarded much in
the same sort of friendly way as we looked upon the boys in the
neighborhood who used to come into our yard to play with us.
The Tutti stop in particular always made us laugh, the name was
such a queer one. One of the girls "presided" at the instrument,
while a little boy blew." We don't want any coatee tunes," said
Father Auton; give us a good long-waister." There is a smack
of seriousness suggested by the devotional swing and dignified
rhythm of such old-fashioned airs as Bangor and Denmark,"
which communicated itself to the assembly. ".All hail the power
of Jesus' name" was always given with effect, the whole strength
of the company being expended on the oft-repeated chorus, And
crown him Lord of all." Also the last line in the first verse of Ye
Christian heroes," "And plant the rose of Sharon there." This
was never sung without a visible quaver in Father Auton's voice
as he sat, with closed eyes, his hands clasped across his ample fig-
Mother Auton was subject to what we children called "spaz-
zums." These were in reality severe attacks of dyspepsia, and
would seize her suddenly at the breakfast-table with but little pre-
monition. The pain was so intense as to nearly stop her breath,
and while it continued she was always in a critical condition. We
children could tell when these attacks approached by noticing her
nostrils, which were slightly distended when suffering from pain
46 RECOLLECTIONS OF AUTON HOUSE.
she wished to conceal. There! we would say to each other,
" mother's going to have a spazzum; don't you see how her nos-
trils stick out ?"
Once fastened upon her, these spazzums never let go until Dr.
Possett had poured down McMunn's Elixir by the table-spoonful.
Every stitch of clothing had to be loosened while Deb'rah, and
Rosannah, and father, and the new girl, and our older sisters rubbed
and rubbed the "small of her back" until the skin was almost
rubbed away. We children, frightened to death, congregated in
the upper entry, and inquired of every passer-by if mother
would n't die ?" Some of us burst into tears, while others said
they felt" as much as we did, but were n't going to cry about
it." The weaker ones used to repair to the lonely, back drawing-
room to pray in the dark that the spazzum might pass off. How
strange it is, that with this recollection comes another, equally
vivid, but just as quaint as the former one was sad. It is the pecul-
iar odor of the black hair-cloth seating of the mahogany chair
where we knelt to offer our petition. That queer, half-musty, half-
hairy, varnishy perfume is as distinct in my recollection as is the
melancholy occasion which bowed my head upon it. These sudden
attacks terribly afflicted our tender-hearted father. I can see him
plainly at this moment flying about with anxious countenance and
wild expression, tumbling over chairs and slamming doors as he
rushed up and down stairs for alcohol, salt, or hot water.
On one lugubrious morning when Mother Auton was groaning,
and the whole household was rubbing her for dear life," a favorite
spaniel belonging to T. Auton took it into his head to have a fit, and
flew around the dining-room at a terrible rate, foaming at the mouth,
etc. Just at this juncture Father Auton appeared at the dining-
ROOMS IN AUTON HOUSE. 47
room door; and seeing the dog covered with saliva, floundering
and kicking under his feet, while all the children were watching
him from the tops of tables and chairs; he became transfixed with
emotion. At last he shouted at the top of his voice, D-n it!
was ever a mortal so put upon ? Wife dying up-stairs mad-dog
down get out "
Happily neither of these direful calamities happened; both our
mother and the spaniel speedily recovered, but what Father Auton
screamed out on this occasion was never forgotten.
THE MIDDLE CHAMBER.
.. = HE middle chamber possessed the rare dig-
nity of being the spot where nearly every
SAuton first saw the light. There was an
odor of new flannel and powder-puff about
V^ it which never quite departed, while a de-
i pressing stillness pervaded the apartment
on those periodic occasions when we chil-
dren were allowed to view the last "new-
comer" from an unknown country.
The "fresh Auton was carried, for its
primal bath, into a small adjoining room
called the Library." Here Miss Betsey
Arnold held the struggling stranger gently on her lap while the
long file of girls and boys from the nursery marched in to pass
judgment upon it. What a nose!" He looks like a monkey."
"Look what a face it's making." He's the ugliest baby I ever
saw," etc. These ingenuous remarks were the unbiased opinions
pronounced upon every new Auton as it appeared. They say that
" children and fools speak the truth." The middle chamber was
also the room which our big brother occupied when he came home
on a visit. He always arrived by the boat train which reached
the city at four o'clock in the morning. We children, who held
him in great veneration, never caught sight of him on such visits
THE MIDDLE CHAMBER. 49
until breakfast time, when he sedately descended in his slippers
to read the morning paper in quiet reserve. He was his moth-
er's hope," and his father's joy,"- and well he might be, for
he was held up before us as an example of everything that was
noble and worthy of imitation so the chamber had to be well
aired before he came. It seems but yesterday that all these prepa-
rations were going on. Mother Auton in the cold room clearing
out the drawers to make way for J. Auton's underclothes, the com-
pany pin-cushion hauled out and put in place under the mirror,
the best comb and brush laid in a convenient spot for use, and the
blue china pitchers filled with the pump-water. Oftentimes, at early
dawn, we could hear the creak of the carriage wheels when the ve-
hicle stopped before the house, and the thud of his trunk upon the
sidewalk. He frequently roused up Deb'rah by rattling the blinds
in the back yard with a clothes-
pole to let him in; but Mother
Auton generally anticipated any
such manoeuvre, and greeted her
son even before the hack-man had
gotten upon his box. From our i
snug quarters in the big bed we
could hear the dull boom of the
heavy front door as it shut again,
then a little desultory under- _
toned conversation, a pair of boots A
dropped on the outside of his
apartment, and all was quiet. = --
The middle chamber was also the -----
" spare room," set apart for invited guests at Auton House. Here
50 RECOLLECTIONS OF AUTON HOUSE.
Mr. and Mrs. McLacken slept when they paid us a visit from New
Haven. Mr. McLacken had a neck so thin and long that it re-
quired folds upon folds of cravat to build it up to the standard size
of ordinary necks. He was always on a strict diet, and was con-
stantly going up-stairs to take his medicine. Here reposed blonde
Cousin Fanny, and tired Theodore, who had a very long upper lip
and went to sleep in his chair every evening; and here rested
Cousin John, who had a Roman nose and chafed his hands together
whenever he met you; and sprightly Cousin Maria with her beam-
ing smile and her flying cap-strings.
These cousins were all from Boston, where they had the enor-
mous frog-pond, and ice-creams so large that no boy could eat any
more than from the top of one of them as far down as the rim
of the glass. They had Boston trunks, owned Boston chaises, ate
Boston cream-cakes from Mrs. Meyers', and took Boston Tran-
scripts." They drank cambric tea," and ate stale bread, and when
they spoke of what was going on in their city they said with us,"
all the time.
Our big brother remarked that it did n't matter what our cousins
ate or drank, or what forms of expression they used, so long as they
had public spirit which we in our town did n't have "a spec of."
We did n't dare ask what public spirit" meant; but among our-
selves concluded that it had reference to some sort of liquor which
the Boston Mayor drank.
Cousin Fannie wore caps with lots of ribbons, and gave us sugared
flag-root which stung our stomachs.
The middle chamber also enjoyed the privilege of being the
apartment where the ladies took off their things" when we had
a party. Its mahogany bed-posts were elaborately ornamented with
THE MIDDLE CHAMBER. 51
carved pine-apples and their spiked leaves. The red silk curtains
about the bed and windows had a deep fringe of tassels and balls,
and the pillow-cases and bed-linen were the best that Auton House
afforded. But for all that the room smelt strange and had a prim,
shut-up, visitor-like air about it. A picture of Ariadne left on the
sea-shore and waiting for her clothes hung just over the pier-glass.
My grandfather's and grandmother's portraits looked steadily down
from the walls, and kept in awe any little boy or girl who dared to
talk above a whisper.
The deep mahogany wardrobe, made by Josey Rawson, and
reaching to the ceiling, contained within its ample bosom the party
gowns, the old lace, the ancient fur boas, and the high "leghorn
hats of my mother. And here rested the tall Canton jars which
came from China in the Ann and Hope," and which once upon a
time were filled with Canton rock candy with white strings running
through it. When the silver branches shed their mellow radiance
around the middle chamber, and the bright firelight danced over
the newly-scoured brasses, and the room got thoroughly warmed up,
it presented a genial and comfortable appearance, that is, for an
apartment set apart as this was from all the rest; but we children
kept clear of it, for it always seemed to be saying to us, Tread
lightly, children, I am the spare-room! On state occasions the
middle chamber was at "its best." Deb'rah and the maid had
hardly finished their folding, and dusting, and putting away, before
the door-bell commenced ringing, and word was passed from mouth
to mouth in the nursery, "The company's come The compa-
ny's come! "
The emotions which rambled up and down my bosom at such
junctures cannot be described. Faint photographs of them, how-
52 RECOLLECTIONS OF AUTON HOUSE.
ever, have visited me, from time to time, since my boyhood, as I
have listened to the bright uproar of some grown-up ball-room.
I used to be in such an excited state that Deb'rah would have to
dress me up before dark.
The new suit, just home from Aunt Nancy Miller's, with its brass
buttons, and broad,
Ruffled collar, was
buttoned up and
pinned down before
whe sunset. Hands
were washed (a bad
job well over), and
St i h air sm oothed, if
such a thing was
Possible with a tan-
gled mass of yel-
- low tow full of
widows' peaks "
As soon as possible
I sprang from the
H Ie nursery, first down
to the front door,
where black Fre'bun stood in white cotton gloves, and a pointed,
woolly tuft like a steeple on the top of his head. Then I sped
through the two drawing-rooms which were being lighted, then
slyly peeped into the supper-room, only to be driven out by Rosan-
nah and Mother Auton, who were surveying the tables for the last
time. Then up the front stairs like a shot, through my mother's
THE MIDDLE CHAMBER. 53
room, where the wood fire had fallen down, then round by the third
story stairs, down the upper hall and into the middle chamber.
Here I stopped, breathless. The "company" had, indeed, appeared
in the shape of two old goodies" who made it a point to arrive
on the notch of time, and had already deposited their things on
While Deb'rah adjusted their rumpled gowns they surveyed the
staring boy before them, and then remarked: Why, C. Auton,
don't you know us ? I 'm Cousin Mary, and I am Cousin Sephronia."
Then they turned to each other, and one of them said, He 's a
bright boy, but I can't say he's handsome." This is their spare-
room, these are Governor and Mrs. Tones's portraits, the carpet is a
good deal faded, ain't it ? but the sheets, I see, are all linen. Look
at that horrid picture behind the pier-glass It is positively indecent.
I suppose they put it in here out of the way of the children." We
shall have an elegant supper, because they know all about what
good eating is in this house. Mr. Auton is a perfect epicure, you
know! They allow the children to eat everything." Come!
let's go down." I 'm ready Does my petticoat show ? "
These two old ladies, of course, had no idea that I had understood
every bit of their conversation, and had detailed it, word for word,
within five minutes afterwards, to the little inquisitive ears in the
nursery. Then I commenced my racing again; first into the third
story, where my brothers were dressing, then down again to the
drawing-room, sliding on the banisters half the way on my new
jacket, and scraping the varnish with my brass buttons the whole
length, besides losing one of my "pumps in the descent.
I watched my opportunity, and when nobody observed I stole
into the darkened supper-room again to sniff the condiments I was
54 RECOLLECTIONS OF AUTON HOUSE.
not allowed to eat. What delicious odors were wafted into my nos-
trils as I entered there The first sniff revealed a fragrant melange
of calf's-foot jelly, and joggly blanc-mange. Then a creamy, winey,
fruity fragrance was given off from the tall glass pyramid of whips
and soft custards, first a whip, then a custard, then a whip, then a
custard, interspersed with Malaga grapes and sparkling jelly. Fat
raisins and blanched almonds lay intermingled in delightful abun-
dance, while mountains of hearts and rounds (each with its slice
of citron, and of my mother's own make) were piled on the silver
cake-baskets at the corners. The heavy decanters rested in their
silver holders. The ponderous cut-glass bowl held aloft its precious
burden of salad, while vacant places at either end of the table re-
mained for the oysters and terrapin. Wine-glasses were piled to-
gether in silver baskets. Forks and spoons lay huddled in delicious
profusion on every hand, while antique salvers and quaint little
basins held the confectionery we called sentiments," and the
As I stood there musing, I could but think how few the fleeting
moments would be before that mountain of lolly-pops and joy
would be gone forever. Those fleecy whips guzzled by strangers,
and the hearts and rounds" (deprived of their citron) all wasted
and broken. I stole just one prune, and put the tip of my finger
into the floating island to see how it tasted, and then hurriedly
closing the door commenced again the "grand rounds" of the
On such great occasions the children were sent to bed before sup-
per was served, with the promise of their plate of good things "
the next morning.
These were brought to us before we quitted the warm blankets of
THE MIDDLE CHAMBER. 55
the ark and the trundle-bed. In the middle of the plate usually
stood a tall whip, the bubbles of which, weary of standing up, had
quietly collapsed into a dried creamy film. About the whip were
grouped a yellow soft custard, a piece of trembling blanc-mange,
specked with little particles of almond shells which lay in the im-
mediate vicinity, one five-fingered piece of preserved ginger, the
syrup of which had run under the bottom of the whip-glass and
stuck the same to the plate.
A heap of raisins, two figs, I
one "heart and round," one ,. ',
glass of calf's-foot jelly, three
or four "sentiments," with
"tells" rolled up in them, and
The prospect of these "good i
things" made us hail with de-
light every one of Mother -
Auton's parties. Once, on a
cold December night when the
thermometer was at zero, and i1i
the carriage-wheels creaked on the snow, occurred quite an exciting
event. The back drawing-room fire-place was piled up with logs to
multiply the heat. There was neither gas nor furnace in those
days, and people had to rely upon hickory wood and wax candles
for bodily comfort. The great halls of houses were cold as Green-
land." Everybody's back was goose-flesh," while everybody's face
was red-hot. That night in particular the wood was piled up, and
its yellow glare shot out into every portion of the drawing-room.
I remember among the company a beautiful Southern lady who
56 RECOLLECTIONS OF A UTON HOUSE.
wore a crimson velvet gown trimmed with white lace, and owned
lots of darkies. Suddenly there was a cry of "fire The wood-
work in the middle chamber, just above us, had ignited from the
heat of the chimney below. There was an immediate commotion
among the fair dames and lordly cavaliers, who rushed up the front
stairway in order to save the ladies' wraps, -their green silk calashes,
and ungainly india-rubbers," their long yarn stockings to draw
over the silk ones, and their satin-wadded pelisses, which were piled
up in elegant confusion on the middle chamber bed. There was
only a voluntary fire department in
those days. Every boy's father was
either a fire-ward or a captain in
the bucket-brigade ; so when the
Salary was sounded the old leather
"buckets which hung in the glass-
I house" were snatched from their
Ij fastenings and brought into imme-
S 1 Beautiful women, with jeweled fin-
Sgers and dresses tucked back, stood
"on the front stairs passing buckets,
while a band of swells" in white
kids (white kids were then fashionable) worked the kitchen-pump,
and slopped the water over the brussels carpets. It was a pictur-
esque and lively scene for some time.
Happily the conflagration was arrested, and everybody enjoyed
the hot supper which followed this excitement all the more. There
was no need that year for the services of the little woolly-headed
chimney-sweep, who so regularly shinned up the big-throated flues
THE MIDDLE CHAMBER. 57
to scrape down their sooty sides, and his melodious carol was piped
in the crisp morning air from the topmost stone of our neighbor's
T. Auton owned a white
" Cade" lamb. This animal
wore a red morocco collar,
and followed its master about (
"Everywhere T. Auton went
The lamb was sure to go."
It became, however, a great i
nuisance. Its nose was every-
where but in its proper place, '
no marble mantel-piece, nor --
mahogany bedstead, were .
too high for it to scale; in- /r 5 -
deed, it seemed to choose
these delicate pieces of furniture for its especial landing-places. Its
idiotic baa" was heard everywhere, and its hot, woolly presence
was quite too much on long summer days.
Besides the lamb, T. Auton had a poodle. Carlo had no tail,
but nature made up the deficiency to him by his unusual sagacity,
and the pity he excited among men on account of this deprivation.
His eyes were red, as if from weeping. He sat down before every
new-corner, placed his paw in his lap, and looked up to him with his
red eyes, as if to invoke his pity. Carlo has no tail," he seemed
to say, He can only wriggle the end of his back-bone when he
feels happy, only that and nothing more."
This call for sympathy affected everybody, and all the children
58 RECOLLECTIONS OF AUTON HOUSE.
in particular were his firm friends. So Carlo, or, as Rosannah the
cook called him, Carla, and the lamb, and T. Auton, and the rock-
ing-horse on the piazza were four inseparables.
The lamb would "baa,". and Carla would bark, and T. Auton would
scamper round the yard playing horse, and switching his im-
promptu tail (made out of green lily-stalks, or of his own pocket-
handkerchief), while the old rocking-horse grinned, and stared at
his three friends with his
glass eye from off the pi-
Sazza. On one of these
l party occasions above al-
luded to, the supper-table
was elaborately set. The
window-shutters in the
banqueting hall were
closed. All things were
ready for serving the feast.
The best china and the cut-
glass dishes stood in re-
spectable positions amidst
the family silver. Rosannah the cook had carefully brought in the
joggling jelly and the flubbering "floating island." Our mother
THE MIDDLE CHAMBER. 59
had surveyed the scene and pronounced it one of her very best
" set tables," when, Baa! baa! and in rushed the lamb, leaped on
the table, galloped around among the soft custards, and the pre-
served ginger, poked his nose into
the jelly, paused to browse on the
chicken-salad, and sniffed at the
"hearts and rounds." Then he
stooped and baa'd again, as if to
say : "There is some mistake about
this. Evidently this is not the
table-land for me to nibble." All
this time Mother Autdn and black
Rosannah stood aghast. The old -
cook opened her eyes and hardly -
dared to breathe, while Mother Auton
shut hers, and hardly dared to stop
breathing; each expecting to hear the
fatal crash, for should that napkin
bowl, brought from China in 1812, be
broken, or that great cut-glass dish
which Aunt Cutler had given to
Grandmother Dunn, be shattered by that horrid sheep," they
never could be replaced. Meanwhile the precious lamb picked
his way among wine-glasses and English walnuts, and beat a hasty
retreat without oversetting a salt-cellar or disturbing a cracker.
This escapade, however, settled his hash," for not many days
afterwards the red collar was taken off his neck, and his neck was
taken off his body, and his body was taken off the premises. So
the Cade lamb was no more.
WORK AND PLAY.
LOVE for drawing was a marked charac-
teristic among the Auton boys. Deb'rah
used to say that we got it from our "fa-
ther's side," whatever that expression might
mean; we stimulated it by constant exer-
cise, so that it became a source of intense
enjoyment. A habit of observation re-
sulted in great facility of expression, which
w converted Auton nursery into an infant
__ drawing-school. The delineation of fig-
Sures was our especial hobby, so that when-
-- "----- ever a new drawing-book came into our
possession we immediately set to work on some favorite beast, gen-
erally a horse. We drew his ears first because this gave us time to
decide, as we proceeded, whether he should be running away or
only. in the stable. A favorite way we had was to sit in little chairs,
all in a row, with our slates on our knees, and see who could draw
the best lion or the fastest trotter. These sketches, when com-
pleted, were submitted to our older brothers for judgment. Some-
times Father Auton would visit the nursery, and with his great
thumb rub out the forelegs of our favorite horse, telling us that
we "never saw a leg crooked-up in that way; it was all wrong,
WORK AND PLAY. 61
and we must try again." So away we 1
went to work once more, and with better /i
In these friendly bouts we discovered
the secret of making a horse look as if "
he were actually moving along the road. ,
We found that motion could not be in-
dicated unless all the legs of the animal
were off the ground at once, and that
the moment any part of him touched
the earth this idea of motion ceased.
We tried in all sorts of ways to prove
this. We got down upon our hands and"
knees and trotted .about the nursery
floor. We sat at the window listening
to the sound of a horse trotting on the
cobble-stones. We watched the animals
in every possible position as they sped
by us, to detect some point of time when all four legs were off the
ground at once.
_f /- we settled th e
_/_question in the
--(( affirmative, so
that Auton nurs-
-------- ery became the
last court of appeal on all trotting questions.
This practice of observation was valuable to us in a variety of
S62 RECOLLECTIONS OF AUTON HOUSE. /
ways. For instance, in order to catch the correct movement of a
tiger dispatching his victim, Deb'rah would allow us to take our
beefsteak and our cutlets out of our plates down on the nursery-
floor. Here, crouching over our imaginary hunter or expiring buf-
i falo between our paws, we tore off great pieces of his flesh from
Sthe bone, and, raising aloft our defiant but greasy visages, swal-
lowed the morsel without mastication.
S In this way we caught what we called the "feel of the tiger,
.J and could thus impart to our representation of him a greater
amount of snarl and ferocity. Then, again, in the same manner,
by constant practice we could imitate the proud walk of a rooster
among the hens. We scratched up imaginary Easter-worms, we
cocked our heads from side to side, as if our eyes were on our tem-
, ples. We flapped our arms and crew from the backs of chairs and
imaginary hen-coops, and pecked at fancied pullets that presumed
to come too near our harem. Thus we imbibed something of that
"inner consciousness" of an ordinary red rooster, which enabled
t' / /
WORK AND PLAY. 63
us to draw him out on the slate so vividly that one could almost
hear him crow. The natural result of this artistic diathesis were
moving dioramas, stuffed elephants, living tableaux and private
theatricals. On the evenings of such exhibitions, our sisters were
stationed at the confectionery table, where diminutive sticks of
candy were sold for a cent apiece to our long-suffering audience,
who sat for our sakes on the hardest kind of boards in Egyptian
darkness for two mortal hours. The fund realized from this source
was expended in blue cambric and paste-board for the Diorama.
F. Auton carved with his jack-knife the little wooden automata
which figured in the different scenes. Bill Paine was the magician
who appeared in the interludes and swallowed fire, while H. Auton
manipulated the strings which set in motion the dioramic world.
One of our scenes represented a cobbler's shop. The curtain rose.
The shoemaker sat at his bench pegging his shoe. A knock was
heard at the door. The old fellow raised his head and asked the
stranger to walk in. The door opened, a well-dressed individual
entered who asked to have his shoe mended. Up went his leg to
exhibit the rent. The cobbler inspected it, and said he would patch
it the next day. Down went the leg. Right about went the
stranger. The door flew open and he disappeared, whereupon the
cobbler dropped his head and commenced pegging away again at
his shoe, and the scene ended amid the plaudits of the audience
hidden in the cimmerian darkness above alluded to. Afterwards
came a tiger-scene in South Africa, and a blacksmith shop on the
road to Pomfret, and a pasteboard naval battle in the War of 1812;
and enough more wonderful things fully worth the price of admis-
sion, which was five cents. We used to print and sell the tickets
for these dioramas weeks before we had done the first thing to the
64 RECOLLECTIONS OF AU4OV HOUSE.
exhibition itself. The advantage of this arrangement was that quite
often the affair never came off, and yet the buyers of our tickets
scarcely ever consented to take back their cash. This was a mean
trick of ours to make money, but the idea must have been put into
our heads by those strange boys who came into our yard and were
forever begging to belong." This word, translated, meant to
become one of the proprietors of the company, having a right
Sto a full share in the profits without
doing any of the -work. It was a
wonderful sight to creep under the
S gay drapery which concealed the ma-
i chinery of our exhibition, and view
the spot where H. Auton pulled that
wilderness of strings which set in
motion the little world above him.
i One small smoky lamp from the
S-- kitchen stood in the corner and shed
a flickering light around. A tangled
-- web of threads with labels attached
S^to the ends hung from little holes
over his head. One string went to the old cobbler's arm, another
lifted the stranger's leg. This one made the Bengal tiger spring
at the native, and that pulled down the main-mast of the Guer-
riere, shot away by the brave boys in the Constitution; and so
on, through all the scenes. H. Auton sat on a little cricket with
his legs crossed and his head bent back, studying the forest of
threads above him. Great drops of perspiration stood on his upper
lip and dropped off his chin. He breathed an atmosphere which
would have suffocated anybody but a boy or an Esquimaux, and
WORK AND PLAIN. 65
he emerged from his lair after each performance parboiled, but
happy. Some of these dioramas ended in our foreign proprietors
getting suddenly mad and leaving the yard en masse. Once in a
while also Al' Young and Nic' Peters (those naughty Meeker Street
Jboys !) would blow out the only light at the confectionery table, and
decamp with all the candy and the pasteboard money. These little
contretemps, however, were neither anticipated nor feared by us
younger ones, as we sat, with eyes like' saucers, in exquisite expect-
ancy, watching for the green curtain to raise its mysterious front.
OUR MOTHER AUTON.
F a boy expects to enter this world at all, he
has got to have some kind of a mother, but
Then there were only seven boys who had
my mother for their mother. One of the
few things left to me, nowadays, which
gives me unalloyed satisfaction, is the fact
that I had my mother for a mother. If I
b had some other boy's mother, knowing the
good things that I do about my own mother,
I shouldn't have been contented. Some-
how she seemed different from Ed Gould's
mother, for instance (the boy who bit the
caterpillar in two), and yet, I presume, in
many respects, she was much the same as
Stthe ordinary run of mothers. We boys al-
ways knew what Mother Auton would do on certain occasions.
There was no cheating about her. When she said, "I'll see," we
knew just as well that we should have what we were begging her
for, as if she had actually said, Yes, my dear, you may have it."
When we had fever turns, the touch of her cool, soft hands on our
brows was better than any spirits of nitre that Dr. Possett gave us
to bring down the pulse; and when we snuggled up to her motherly
OUR MOTHER AUTO. 67
bosom, we slept more sweetly than on any other pillow. In later
life, how puzzled grandfather would have been, to span her portly
waist with his two hands, as he used to do so easily when she was
but eighteen! and to look into her sweet blue eyes no one would
detect the hidden snap which lay there, and which manifested
itself, too, when we tried her patience beyond a certain limit.
When she spanked us she lost her breath, the blows were so short
and rapid, and, dear soul! the punishment injured her more than it
did us, for we went off to our corners saying, Did n't hurt us
any while she was pale with excitement and exhausted from her
encounter. Old-fashioned and dignified, delightful in conversation,
and loved by everybody, elegant in her manners and an angel in
sickness, my mother Auton was a "jewel and a love."
Our grandfather was a prominent Federalist in the State, and after
the War of 1812 became its Governor, and his daughter was nat-
urally an important factor in the gubernatorial mansion. The ha-
bitual reception and entertainment of strangers beget a certain ease
and self-possession which few other things impart, and I well re-
member the grace with which she entered the drawing-room and
courtesied to some person who had called upon her. It was that
quaint, old-fashioned courtesy, half coy, half formal, which survived
the Revolutionary period, and charmed everybody. The children
thought her a grand performer on the piano. She was a favorite
pupil of old blind Oliver Shaw, the music teacher, and when she sat
at the instrument and commenced the Battle of Prague for us,
we stood about the piano with heads just tall enough to view the
key-board, and eyes and ears wide open with delight. As her fin-
gers undulated up and down the scales we could see the advance of
the troops, and hear the rattling of the musketry, the cries of the
68 RECOLLECTIONS OF AUTON HOUSE.
wounded, and the groans of the dying, almost as distinctly as if the
actual battle was before us. When the performance ended it left us
in a cold perspiration.
The "Infant Boys of Switzerland" was another favorite piece,
and also, Come rest in this bosom, my own stricken deer!" The
cross-hand movement in this last composition we considered the
most wonderful of all. That she should never miss striking the
correct note with the middle finger of one hand stretched across the
other was the marvel of marvels. Whenever afterwards we prac-
"ticed the piano on the
nursery tables and baby-
chairs, this cross-hand
manoeuvre was the ob-
ject we all tried to attain.
Mother Auton was a
Lady Bountiful" in the
old-fashioned sense. She
lived at an epoch when
hospitality was a Christian virtue, and a stranger became a member
in a man's own household. Full measure, heaped up and running
over," was the invisible legend engraven over her blessed heart, and
she turned her face from no poor man at the door. All the col-
ored people squatted to her in the street, and Minty Weeks," Zip
Brinturn's wife, Vi'lette Jackson and "Aunty ," in mob caps,
checked aprons, silver-bowed spectacles, and big india-rubber shoes,
would wend their noiseless way through the upper entry to her
chamber-door, to pour into her patient and sympathetic ear their
worn-out tales of rheumatiz" and "gone feeling's These groan-
ings were sure to be relieved by potions of "spirits," and remnants
OUR MOTHER AUTON. 69
of old flannel, dealt out to them from that inexhaustible store,
always on hand, somewhere in the baby-house closet.
There were a few occasions when Mother Auton's disapprobation
was strangely excited. She called women who
were guilty of anything derogatory to their sex
" impudent hussies" and saucy trollops;" and
old men who paraded about the hot streets on
Fourth of Julys with masonic aprons, and com-
passes on their stomachs, stupid asses." She
considered Dr. McGee and Dr. Eben Cowen the
greatest physicians in the world. She hung lit-
tle bags of camphor about the children's necks in
the time of "the cholera." She "cleaned house "
in the first week of May, rain or shine, and took '
such pride in her "boys" that it would have
"fairly killed her" had any one of them gone
amiss. Now all these qualities made her an ideal
Her nose was large, which we did n't object to, and her stature
was tall, which just balanced her nose. She wore a cap, the strings
of which were tied just between the chin she was born with and
the other one she acquired with age. This made it very convenient
for the strings, which never budged from their position. We used
to like to have her come into the nursery and sing to us her fa-
vorite lullaby, -
Rumpty Toodle lie was there !
Tittery, Nan, and Tarey 0.," etc.
And when she reached the last line of the poem -
Fall down, Daddy 0 0- 0,"
70 RECOLLECTIONS OF AUTON HOUSE.
which was repeated on several soft keys, and in the minuendo scale,
we all slipped off to the land of dreams with smiles on our lips,
and faces cuddled up under her dear double chin.
It was our delight to pick the first raspberries of the season which
grew in the upper garden," and bring them to her in little sau-
cers. We all gathered about her
knee to watch her eat them. She
took each one up on the point of a
pin in the daintiest manner, dipped
it into the sugar we brought her,
and dropped it into her mouth like
I 7-_ a lady that she was. For our sakes
(who had picked them for her) she
ate the bad and the good ones,--
St those that tasted of rose-bugs, and
those that were covered with white-
I I, wash off the trellis. Should a sin-
gle berry, however inferior, escape
her observation, we stood ready to
S remind her of it. "There mother,
you have n't eaten that little green
fS -- one Sometimes she really could
not eat such poor-looking specimens, whereupon we (who were
dying to swallow the whole of them) cleared the little saucers in
the twinkling of an eye.
The age of letter-writing is past. The era of Madame de Sevigne
and Madame de Stael is buried beneath the rush of modern civ-
ilization. But there was a period when it was the fashion to
OUR MOTHER AUTON. 71
write letters and to express one's self on paper in cultivated diction.
This was the age of Chesterfield and of the Tattler." Men and
women cultivated conversation as an art, and struggled for the mas-
tery of expression at the pen's point.
Mother Auton was bred in that spirit, and matured under the
influence of that past generation. Her ideas flowed as easily as
water, and her nimble pen posted them in black and white with as-
tonishing facility, even after eighty winters had passed over her
What a correspondent she was, to be sure Wait for Mother
Auton's letters, if you want'to hear the truth about it! was the
common shibboleth in the family. Her epistles were comforts to
the homesick school-boy, the delight of her children in foreign
lands, and became valuable transcripts of the current history of
the whole Auton tribe. For forty years she wrote a weekly bulle-
tin to her absent ones, bringing to their anxious hearts fresh photo-
graphs of home.
Mother Auton never would sit at a desk. Neither secretary"
nor davenport" suited her purpose. The little gifts presented
to her from time to time, and admirably adapted to write at, were
always gratefully accepted, but never used. She took her writing
materials on her broad, motherly lap, pushed her cap-strings from her
face, adjusted her gold spectacles over her ample nose, dipped her
pen daintily in the ink (just enough to fill it without blotting), and
away it ran so merrily and easily over the paper that she would be
on her fourth page before we children, who were seated around her,
had half gotten through sucking our oranges. People write letters
now, lots of them, heaps of them; but I very much doubt whether
they contain one half the valuable news, the harmless gossip, the
genial spirit, which-flowed so readily from Mother Auton's pen.
72 RECOLLECTIONS OF AUTON HOUSE.
There she sat in her chair every Sunday morning for over forty
years, writing the weekly epistle, with bended head and benign
expression, while the wood fire hissed and sputtered, and the old
canary sang in the sun-light.
LL children are queer, and why should n't they
be? It is no more than natural that such
Little pieces of animated putty should exhibit
/ some extraordinary peculiarities before they
become acquainted with their new existence.
SJust peep at a fresh-born baby and- notice
S. what disproportion there is between brain
Yit and body! Infants are not much more than
tadpoles with possibilities. A soft rounded mass of brain-matter
with a disproportionate appendage of soft bones. Sometimes the
nutriment given these embryotic people stimulates the brain at the
expense of the bones, and sometimes contrariwise. From this in-
equality of nutrition spring abnormal results. One small specimen
is all head, while another is little else than stomach. And this
unequal development often continues with their growth.
The Auton children were no exceptions to this state of things.
We had our peculiarities like other folks, and like all other families
we had a young one in ours who articulated sentences long
before it ought to have done so. It bawled out That's my baby
--give me a cracker! at so tender an age that Mother Auton
screamed for Dr. Possett at once; but Father Auton pooh-poohed
the idea, saying that it was all right, it was only a girl."
74 RECOLLECTIONS OF AUTON HOUSE.
Then we always carried our stockings to bed and put them be-I
hind our pillows, and that was rather an odd habit. Besides that,
we used to say our prayers on the front stairs in the middle of the
day, so as to save time at night when we were sure to be so sleepy.
This was a business-like habit, but a very naughty one. We all
had what Dr. Possett called chronic exaltation of the imagina-
tion," and saw dragons' heads and demons' faces in the air after we
were abed. We discovered all kinds of animals in the yellow grain
of the Egyptian marble mantel-piece in the green room, and in the
dying embers of the fire. We lay on the floor pressing in our eye-
balls with our fists, in order to enjoy afterwards those gorgeous and
changing figures produced on the retina by the pressure. We had
also an inconvenient way of suddenly waking from sleep in the
greatest trepidation, and screaming for Deb'rali. This succeeded
in arousing the house, but to our great cost; because our exasper-
ated parents, seeing that we were screaming for nothing, made us
finish our hullaballoo by screaming for something, this Mother
Auton administered to us in a very rapid but effective manner.
When T. Auton was a little boy he was so frightened because
Charley Arnold threatened to put him in a pin-hole in the fence
that he did n't get over it for years; and the tradition is that F.
Auton was never able to go church because when the minister said
" Kingdom come it made him so terribly ill that he was obliged
to leave the pew. This same F. Auton was uncomfortably affected
by circuses, for the moment the brass band "struck up he left
the tent, saying that he "felt the bass-drum in his stomach."
The Auton children were in mortal fear of telling a lie, and in
their circumlocution to avoid a falsehood they generally contrived
to tell one. They used to say they did n't know when they did
AUTON PECULIARITIES. 75
know, and believed" this thing to be so when they knew all about
it. The whole of Auton nursery expected inevitably to die before
morning unless each night somebody who knew about such things
assured it to the contrary. One evening T. Auton sent his younger
sister down-stairs to settle this important point for him, while he
awaited the verdict in his night-drawers on the top step. The com-
pany gathered in the green-
room were startled by seeing
the door open, and a little girl
in long white night-gown and
ruffled cap enter. She strode
solemnly up to Mother Auton i
and in serious tones said, T.
Auton wants to know if he will
live till morning." Everybody -
was convulsed with laughter,
but it was no laughing matter
to the lassie who performed
her task with imperturbable
gravity, and then marched
back again to the shivering cul-i
prit on the front stairs.- '
Children often exhibit a brilliancy of conception in the attainment
of their ends in view, which would bring no discredit on operations
of more importance, and by more experienced brains. The Auton
girls were forbidden to play with water because it wetted their
aprons and sleeves, and was spilt all over the nursery floor; and
above all it gave them sore throat. This was one of Mother Au-
ton's inexorable commands. The question with the girls was how
to get round the command without disobeying the law.
76 RECOLLECTIONS OF AUTON HOUSE.
Up in the baby-house," and among the dolls, washing-day"
came about as regularly as it did down below in the laundry. The
girls said the dolls' duds needed to go in the tub and be ironed
every week, or else their children would look like a family of
Now A. Auton was a motherly girl, and "took" naturally to
babies and their habits, and knew just the best way of "playing
paper-dolls." It seemed to her indispensable that her children's
dresses should be washed, yet how could she do it without water ?
So the little girl sat down and thought and thought, and after long
she w o uld
l;' chew-out" the
I piece by piece.
In that way her
Sc mother wou ld
I not be disobeyed,
ayet her doll-chil-
ott dren would be
j\ kept decent. So
washing in the laundry she sat up at the baby-house window and
chewed and chewed her little dresses until her tiny jaws grew
weary, and her salivary glands refused to perform their office. One
dotted muslin tried her powers the most. It took more time and
A UTON PECULIARITIES. 77
more chew to make that gown tidy than all the rest of the wash.
I believe if she had swallowed what her little teeth ground out of
that dotted muslin it would have killed her, but an open window
into the yard provided a means of escape from this danger. Dear
little mother !
T the risk of making a trite remark I will ob-
S serve that the advent of spring gives me de-
lightful emotions. The swelling buds cause a
S ^ corresponding expansion of heart. The first
sight of a robin tilting his tail and gushing
forth his flute note, stirs within me an ecstasy.
It is a delicious moment to the school-boy
( when he can throw off his overcoat and com-
forter," for the days of sore throat, and salt
\ and vinegar gargle, are numbered. Animals
feel just like human beings at this vernal pe-
riod. The cows chew their cud on the sunny
side of the barn with a smile on their faces,
"and draw in great draughts of the balmy south
wind with half-shut eyes. The hens and roosters pick up the Easter-
worms and cock their heads about as if they pitied common mortals,
who could n't scratch up the warm, responsive earth. The doves
come forth from their round holes and strut about in the sunshine,
while the sleek kittens commence to charm the bluebirds, out of
pure malice. Every opening year I renew my youth by this deli-
cious experience. Men become boys again when they feel thus.
The years that have rolled between youth and manhood are anni-
AUTON KITCHEN. 79
hilated, and for the nonce we are, as we will be in eternity, with the
notion of time entirely discounted and blotted out of our existence.
By the recurrence of these sensations, so common to every school-
boy, I return again to that youthful epoch when Rosannah the
cook inhabited Auton kitchen. In bright bandanna and stern ebony
countenance she stands before me, as I used to see her, arms akimbo,
listening to the orders for the day.
Rosannah was cook in Auton House for nearly thirty years. She
wore one little thin gold ring on the third
finger of her well-formed, long, left hand,
but we never knew whether she was ever
married. I pity the rash youth who linked
his fate to hers, because she who thor-
oughly believed in the old adage that too
many cooks spoil the broth could surely
dispense with any masculine suggestions in
regard to the matrimonial pottage. It is
safe to predict that if Rosannah ever was
a bride it must have been for a brief and sanguinary period. She
was what might be termed a cross cook, but ah was n't she a good
one though ? To watch her manipulate a Rhode Island turkey
" going round doing good in the bright tin-kitchen, gave one an
appetite for dinner. Once on the skewer and before the roaring
wood fire, it was a mere question of time that separated you from a
dish fit for the gods. With the air of an expert she opened the
roaster to inspect the savory process. Her dredger in one hand, and
long spoon in the other, she basted the blistering bird with the
flour, and poured the sputtering gravy over its magnificent breast,
with all the dignity of a queen. When the turkey was ready to
80 RECOLLECTIONS OF AUTON HOUSE.
be served a fragrant cloud enveloped it which penetrated, to the
dining-room. The great mountain of breast was blistered and.
browned with half an inch of aromatic dressing. No tough, yellow
pin-feathered legs stuck up before you, but lovely, bulging drum-
sticks, dripping with gravy, and folded together in peaceful satis-
faction. Its liver and manly gizzard were huddled together, just
under the sides of the home where they lived, and a suspicion of
onion and sweet marjoram permeated the air in the immediate vi-
Those ideal roast-turkey days took their flight when the new-
fashioned bakers, and ranges, and cooking stoves, stuck their ugly
faces into the kitchen. Anthracite coal can never charm forth the
subtle qualities and evanescent flavors which lurk within the sa-
cred precincts of this wonderful bird. It requires the magic heat
A UTON KITCHEN. .- ) 1
of walnut and hickory to achieve this victory. An old-fashioned
tin-kitchen, unstinted charcoal, a fresh fore-stick, with Rosannah
the cook to superintend the operation, are the conditions which
unlock the secret. What modern civilization is to the American
Indian, so a new-fangled range was to our old cook. The two could
not exist in company, so when the range entered at one door Eo-
sannah and the yellow-eyed cat departed by the other. And with
her fled the iron crane and the pot-hooks, the sooty horse-shoes and
the Rumford's Roaster, the great brick oven and the old tin-kitchen,
the biscuit baker and the Johnny-cake board. A new regime had
dawned upon us, and baked turkey and tasteless meats usurped the
places of juicy birds and gissam" gravy.
We children had a great deal to do with Rosannah the cook.
Like other children our appetites were perennial, and we flocked to
her in troops for provender. She never would tell us what we were
to have for dinner. The nearest she ever came to it was, "Lare
overs for meddlers." Whether this expression was African for roast
turkey or beefsteak we never knew. We stood about her like a
swarm of bees, together with all the strange boys of the neighbor-
hood who always came into the kitchen when there was anything to
eat there. All hungry as bears, all famishing, all with remarkably
good digestions. She looked down from her sable height upon the
white brood beneath her. The ponderous loaf of brown bread
rested in her left hand. With one scoop of the knife in her right
she spread the whole surface with the yellow butter, with a single
cut the slice was severed from the parent loaf and dealt out to the
expectant boy, with another majestic look she repeated the opera-
tion until the crowd was filled.
S Now, g'long!" "Out with ye she cried, Shut the doo'," and
S82 RECOLLECTIONS OF AUTO HOUSE.
S the bread-and-butter brigade vanished from sight. Saturday night
"was a busy one in Rosannah's kitchen, because the Sunday morn-
Sing's breakfast was being prepared. This meal, on that day, had
been the same in Auton House for sixty years. Whatever may be
said concerning the indigestibility of hot Indian pudding and baked
beans, fish-balls, and brown bread, it is a fact that the Autons
/ thrived on this diet.
_ /Q. But in order that these toothsome delicacies should become harm-
& less, it was quite necessary that they be laid away in the hot brick
V oven during Saturday night to steam and simmer until the bells for
/ Sunday-school commenced ringing in the morning.
^ / The crackling flames of a dry wood fire licked and hugged the red
S sloping sides of the brick oven into a white heat. Rosannah stood
ready to remove with tongs and hod the larger embers, and with
the old turkey wing to spread an even layer of hot ashes over the
brick bottom to prevent the precious viands from burning.
First, came the Indian pudding. This was set on the broad iron
shovel and pushed to its position in the farthest corner of the oven.
Then followed the brown bread which took its place on the right
of its sweet relative, and last of all the beans. A delicate slice of
choice pork just peeked over the rim of the dish as if to say, Au
revoir mes amis," Au plaisir! Rosannah closed the oven with
the great iron door. Her part of the work was over. The remain-
der of it was to be performed by the mysterious action of those
subtle forces within the fiery chamber.
I must say a word about Rosannah's coffee. I know that the Ger-
man beverage is very palatable, unter den linden; the French va-
riety is delicious after dinner at Trois freres; the Egyptian com-
pound requires the aid of narghili and tarbooshe to make it tolerable,
A UTON KITCHEN. 83
while the English liquid is not to be mentioned. All these are good
in their way, but Rosannah's coffee was perfect nectar. She burnt
it, and ground it, and boiled it herself, and then she settled it with
a fish-skin and egg-shells in the tall tin coffee-pot.
The fragrance of that "Old Government Java," while it was
being parched, came 'way out into the front entry. Rosannah
stirred the berries with one particular burnt stick, which gave it a
certain mysterious flavor. She always parched the coffee Saturday
afternoons, at the gloaming, and before the lamps were lighted.
Vi'lette Jackson usually sat by the fireside, smoking her short
pipe, and watching the operation. Those two weird, ebony women,
in bright bandannas and solemn mien, looked like witches as they
stirred round the fragrant compound by the flickering fire-light.
The big coffee-pot was allowed to stand a while on the warm
hearth to insure greater purity to its contents, then Rosannah held
the bright vessel aloft, one elbow on hip, and poured the dark aro-
matic tide by graceful curves into the vasty depths of the family
urn. The heater was next plunged into the bubbling caldron, and
Jenny carried it to the dining-room.
Rosannah seldom smiled.
Rosannah seldom talked.
Her business was to cook, and she attended to her business. On
washing days she had a half tumbler of spirits to keep off rheum-
atiz." She wore a wadded hood and "india-rubbers" when she hung
out the clothes on Mondays. She was very superstitious, and be-
lieved that the horse-shoes she had hung on the old crane kept off
the witches. To see Rosannah out of the kitchen and in her best
bonnet, you would never recognize her. On the public streets her
countenance wore a sad and depressed expression. She was out of
84 RECOLLECTIONS OF AUTON HOUSE.
her element there; but once in her kitchen, with a fresh bandanna
about her head, and she was monarch of all she surveyed."
j V. b. H( 4'f-
SFather Auton being quite epicurean in his taste, Rosannah the
cook and he were naturally en rapport. For she knew just how
long to cook his venison, and just the extra pinch of spice to put
in his calf's-head soup, and just the amount of brandy for his mince
pies. Her roast pig on Fourth of Julys would have delighted
Charles Lamb, and her potted-pigeon gravy was the wonder of the
neighborhood. When she was complimented on her success she
rewarded her friends by the grim apparition of a smile, which soon
blended again into her ordinary stoicism.
It is poor policy to moralize about cooks, but I must indulge in it
for a moment now. There would have been no Auton kitchen to
speak about if there had been no Rosannah to go into it, and with-
out a kitchen Auton House could not have existed for a day, and
had there been no Auton House there would have been no Auton
family, so'it seems clear that the whole autonomy of the Autons
depended upon the life of one good, cross old black woman.
I pity cooks. Their wages would be cheap, it seems to me, were
they five times what they are. With an old-fashioned cook in a
family, the father and mother agree, the children are always healthy
A UTON KITCHEN. 85
and hungry, and one entertains his friends with no jar or excite-
ment. Without such an one everybody is at sea at once, and
the whole family degenerates into a lot of quarreling tramps. A.
good cook is a boon in disguise, even a bad one is better than none.
In those Rosannah days, your cook, your minister, and your home
were known quantities; nowadays they are all just the other way.
Then, people were content to remain at home during the hottest
weather, behind the closed blinds and in cool retreat, within their
comfortable chambers; now they are frantic to sit on their trunks
killing mosquitoes, in a closet at the top of a wooden caravansary,
at ten dollars per day, and say they are happy. People used to go
to the Springs," in August, to drink the waters, and lived con-
tentedly at home the rest of the year. N.\\,ral;ys, on the contrary,
they do quite the reverse.
Auton kitchen ran on without stopping for fifty years. Good,
faithful Rosannah She has cooked her last turkey, she has made
her last pie, and the secret of her seasoning departed with her.
With slight paraphrase, the dying words attributed to that tired
old woman would be applicable to her: -
"Her last words on earth were : Dear friends, I am going
Where washing ain't done, nor starching nor sewing.
And everything there will be just to my wishes,
For where they don't eat there's no washing of dishes.
I'll be where loud anthems will always be ringing,
But having no voice I '11 get rid of the singing.
Don't mourn for me now, don't mourn for me never,
For I'm going to do nothing for ever and ever.' "
CHRISTMAS AT AUTON HOUSE.
"UEER as it may seem, the Autons never hung
Sup their stockings at Christmas. They put
South their shoes instead. Why it was so is a
q question, but as no Auton ever did it, no Au-
ton ever would. We regularly sang, how-
ever, Mr. Moore's Night before Cli i-Iliia,"
and thought we had fully complied with the
S-t requirements of the lines: -
"The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In the hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there."
Possibly this departure from the ancient rule arose from our cus-
tom of receiving presents after breakfast, and also that our great,
great, great grandmother was a French Huguenot, and preferred
the sabot. We only troubled Santa Claus in the early morning for
a bundle of candy, and such other knickknacks as he might feel in-
clined to bestow.
Our boots and shoes being the chosen vessels to receive this early
freight, they were set on the mahogany table in the upper hall, and
were ranged from father's down to the eleventh Auton's in regular
CHRISTMAS AT AUTO HOUSE. 87
Our big brother was expected home by the early boat, so that,
together with other anticipations, drove sleep from our pillows.
From hour to hour on the night preceding Christmas we raised
our uneasy, tumbled heads from our couches, hoping it was light
enough to scream out, in one word, wishy'rmerryChristmas," but
somehow the sun stuck down and would n't hurry up." But at
the faintest suspicion of dawn we thumped poor Deb'rah with our
feet to go for our shoes. Oh! how dead with sleep that much-
abused nurse used to be, curled up on the edge of the bed! Know-
ing that she would be called upon at a moment's notice, this model
guardian of babyhood always kept about her a flannel garment,
ready to fly at the first thump. I can remember, as if it were yes-
terday, just how that flannel petticoat felt to my boyish feet as I
pushed and pushed her, little by little, off the edge of the bed to
wake her up.
As the sun mounted the heavens six or-eight Autons, with shoes
before them, sat bolt upright in bed destroying their appetites.
By eight o'clock Auton nursery was nauseated, and the bare
idea of breakfast was revolting. Our big brother, however, was
not at all excited by this exceptional state of things. He drank
his coffee, ate his drop cakes and conversed with Father Auton
88 RECOLLECTIONS OF AUTON HOUSE.
about the news from the metropolis as if there never was any such
thing as Christmas. With one leg crossed contentedly over the
other he read, and read, and read the morning paper until we chil-
dren were fairly exasperated with him. There could be no fun up-
stairs until he came, because Mother Auton would have waited for
him a whole day, if necessary, before distributing the presents.
To our great relief he joined
at last the noisy throng as it
i swept like a breeze up the front
stairs into mother's room."
I__ Deb'rah's small-armed half-
sister "Ruby" used to say,
when inquiry was made con-
cerning her health, that she
was pretty poorly," and that
expresses the state of Mother
Auton's feelings a good deal of
the time at that epoch. She
-__ thought that each Christmas
would be the last one she was
to be with us, so that in the midst of our hilarity we always had a
tear in one eye. If the amount of delight which danced in our
expectant hearts on those Christmas mornings could have been
fairly put into the scales and held there long enough they would
have weighed down a continent.
Mother Auton went to one particular deep drawer, in one par-
ticular bureau, on one particular side of the room, and there, stand-
ing before its open mouth, with tears in her dear eyes and a trem-
bling in her speech, she placed in our hands the little tokens of her
CHRISTMAS AT AUTON HOUSE. $
affection, one after another, from father down to Rosannah the
cook, with such little speeches as-
"Accept this, my dear, as a fond token of affection from your-'
mother," etc.; and This silk, dear E., was the nearest I could get
like the one you wanted so much," etc.; or "Take this remem-
brance, C. Auton, from your loving mother," etc.; and This, my
darling, is a small affair, but," etc., etc., etc. And so she went d w-t-
the whole row, keeping us just between smiles and tears all the
time, until the festival was closed. Dear, dear Mother Auton!
The remembrance of those beatific days, that mystic association
which clings to Christmas-tide, and the precious memories which
they bring to us of maternal love and noble unselfishness, have im-
parted strength to endure that bitter burden of disappointment and
death which sooner or later falls to the lot of every human creature.
HAT boy is fortunate who has reason to be
proud of his father. We Auton boys were
lucky fellows in this respect. When people
l told us that they knew we were Autons by
our resemblance to our daddy," we were
Ready to hug them with delight. At school
we stood prepared to fight at a moment's no-
S\tice to see w hose father w as the strongest. W e
had many youthful arguments to sustain our
Slofty estimate of his character; for, said we,
did n't he manage a bank which was broken
into ? and was n't he in the city govern-
ment and a visitor to the insane asylum? "
and "did n't he speak to all the poor people in town, and say sar-
vant, marm,' to the women, and savant, sir,' to the men ?" and
" did n't he carry a gold-headed cane which he thumped along the
sidewalks ? and did n't the butcher hang up venison all winter
for him, and then bring in great long bills in the spring, which he
had to turn over and over and over again before he got to the end
of them ? and did n't he indorse pretty promissory notes for
Cousin Ezra, and then pay up all Cousin Ezra's pretty debts for
him ?" and "did n't he have what Mother Auton called 'a corpo-
FATHER AUTON. 91
ration.' Now," reasoned we, "how could he do all these wonderful
things and have all these wonderful traits unless he was a wonder-
ful man?" The fact was self-evident.
I remember so well that delicate suspicion of tobacco which lin-
gered about his hands, and which we used to sniff whenever he/
played with us: Barber barber shaved a mason," or boxed our
ears in earnest; on these latter occasions his great hands weighed /\
a ton, and for that reason we begged Mother Auton to do all the
family castigation -it was so short and soon over.
In those days Father Auton
went to market early every F ,
morning with his basket on
his arm, often accompanied
by some of his "boys." He
sauntered about from cart to
cart inspecting the fresh and
tempting merchandise in the
cool morning air.
It was quite a blow to
youthful pride, sometimes, to
be sent home from the butch-
er's wagon with a big cock-
turkey dangling between one's
legs, and its gorgeous tail
spreading its ample plumage
before one like a fan. Father Auton chuckled to himself when he
practiced this little joke upon his rising sons. It is proper, how-
ever, to remark that this duty was never shirked, but with cane and
kids in one hand, and cock-turkey in the other, the "rising son,"
92 RECOLLECTIONS OF AUTON HOUSE.
bowing and scraping to the friends who met him, triumphantly car-
ried the dangling monster safely through the main streets, and laid
his yellow carcase in Auton kitchen. In those days all the black-
berries and huckle-berries were peddled from house to house. Fa-
ther Auton used to go out to the farmer's wagon without his hat,
and inspect the coal-black fruit which lay before him in half-bushel
measures instead of scanty quart boxes of the present day. In those
times it was expected that people would try the berries before
purchasing them. The way was to scoop up a little heap in the
palm of one's hand, and shake them up a bit to get them well to-
gether; then pour them down the throat like peas in a hopper.
Father Auton generally ended these trials by taking five or six
FATHER AUTON. 93
Auton kitchen consumed charcoal by the load. Great deep
baskets of it were sold at six and eight cents, and the tally used
to be kept on the back of the wood-house door; one, two, three, four,
and then a mark across like this:
until the hundred and fifty baskets
were deposited in the bins. Farm- // I/ IP I
ers brought in from the country towering loads of walnut and hick-
ory, which they pitched over into the cobble-stoned yard of Auton
House, while the oxen and the old horse munched corn-stalks and
hay in the lane.
Every family had its own
wood-sawyer in those days.
We had ours, named Dad-
dy Burns." This individual
was as tall as a sycamore,
and as red as a peony. He
had a bald head, and a red
flannel cap, which he put on
when he sawed." He wore
a short jacket and a little flat /
black hat. His enormous
trousers had nothing to mark
them but patches and ampli-
tude, while his thick cow-hide
shoes seemed to inclose a
pair of hoofs instead of feet. He must have been six feet and
a half in height. He came swaying into Auton yard like the main-
mast of a ship, with his saw in one hand and his horse in the other,
looking like a son of Anak. Daddy Burns had a grand old face, a
94 RECOLLECTIONS OF A UTON HOUSE.
mixture of the patriarch and the inebriate. He never laughed, but
lived a lonely and dignified existence far above the heads of other
He was seldom in good spirits, but very frequently in bad ones.
He really loved rum for rum's sake, and his long throat made him
an excellent judge of it. He or some other family wood-sawyer
was the one who drank two large bowls of chocolate without stop-
ping, and then said he did n't like chocolate."
Father Auton used to lay in the potatoes, and the turnips and
carrots, by the hundred bushels every winter. I seem to hear now
the echo of their tumbling into the big bins down cellar, as basket
after basket deposited its rumbling contents. "Nick Peters," "Old
Speywood," and "Mr. Atwood brought to Father Auton his "Car-
olina-potatoes," his soft-soap," and his freckled pippin-apples."
Old Speywood was an Indian, Nick Peters was a Portugee," and
Mr. Atwood was a Yankee, all very unique varieties of men.
Peters was short and the color of a cent; Speywood had straight
black hair and high cheek bones, and when he plunged his dipper
into the soft-soap barrel he seemed to be on the point of giving his
native war-whoop," and leaping from his wagon to scalp some
of us; while Mr. Atwood had a perennial smile on his face not un-
like his pippins, and often stopped in his work to give us a golden
specimen out of the barrels in his cart. These men were great
friends with Father Auton, and well they might be, for they supplied
the needs of Auton House for many years at good prices. Our but-
ter and milk were kept fresh and cool down the well, in a tidy, un-.
painted wooden box, which preserved these articles quite as perfectly
as the modern refrigerator.
The style of living in those days was simpler than the present
FATHER AUTON. 95
regime, and had a corresponding influence upon the habits and
customs of society. Men and women lived long and slept better
than they do nowadays; but it must be acknowledged that Father
Auton was what "our Deb'rah called a snorer." The long-
drawn notes of his bugle," as they rose and fell on the silent sum-
mer air, used to startle us from our slumber during those sweltering
August nights when all the windows were open. In depth and com-
pass they surpassed the chronic concert of tree-toad and festive
His youthful feelings, his sympathizing nature, and his love of
humor made Father Auton the very best of companions. It was a
treat to see him make a quill-pen. After scraping the proper por-
tion with the back of his knife-blade, he laid the nib on the nail of
his left thumb, and performed the operation with the air of a pro-
fessor. Nobody knew better than he did a chicken from a fowl,
and he told a story almost as well as Uncle Josiah." In summer
he suffered fearfully from the heat, and used to plunge his whole
head in the great brass basin filled Nith sparkling pump-water, like
a Newfoundland dog, and lay his hot hands, as far as the elbows, in
the same refreshing element when he returned from the office."
His teeth were like ivory; and his favorite way of amusing the
youngsters of the family was to seize them by wrist and opposite
leg, swing them back and forth through the air, and then blow in
Father Auton was our first teacher both in drawing and penman-
ship. He showed us how to make an eagle by the flourish of a pen.
He set our first copy in the writing book : "Let beauty shine in
every line," and puzzled us by saying that p-o-t spelt tea-pot, and
1-o-o-t spelt elder-blow tea.
96 RECOLLECTIONS OF A UTON HOUSE.
Unfortunate is the boy who loses his father before he becomes a
man. A symmetrical character needs the influence of both the
male and female natures during the critical period of youth. Nei-
ther the maternal nor the paternal influence alone can form a per-
fect character. A boy brought up entirely by the mother becomes
a man from a woman's point of view, and is apt to be wanting in
those qualities most needed in the battle with the world ; while a
youth who attains maturity unaided by the subtle potency of ma-
ternal influence is likely to possess a harsh and one-sided disposition,
and too often becomes tyrannical and brutal. It requires two sensi-
ble persons, a man and a woman, to round out and perfect the
manly character. Some wise-acre has remarked that It is easy
enough to get another wife, but where on earth can you get an-
other mother?" This axiom can be matched by what old Aunt
Katy (the black ironer of Auton kitchen) said one day, when the
conversation turned upon the merits of Father Anton : -
'T ain't no use talking' ; I would n't giv' nuffin' for these 'ere
step-faders Callin' a man faderr' don't make him fader, does n't
it ? Brack or white, a chile wid'out a fresh and bloody fader ain't
got no show 't all, honey !"
A BoY is father to the man." His character resembles a kernel!
of corn possessing great possibilities, which depend upon the acci-
dents of soil, sunshine, and rain, to develop into a harvest. There
is something subtle and intangible in a boy's nature, which makes
him walk and talk like his father when he grows up, no matter if
he be nurtured on the plains of Arabia, or fed on missionaries in the
South Sea islands. We are the same creatures in old age that we
are in youth, plus a few cares and anxieties, losses and disappoint-
ments which have been put upon us in the journey of life, weighing
us down like heavy garments. Although it is true that to eat of
the tree of knowledge is to cease being a brute and commence
being an angel, still it is the acquirement of that same knowledge
which causes our bitterest tears to flow, and furrows up our brows
A little extra knowledge which we gained at ten years is what
98 RECOLLECTIONS OF AUTON HOUSE.
killed Santa Claus" forever, and stopped up one avenue of the"
keenest joy. It is nothing but increased intelligence which prevents
us in our manhood from indulging with zest in the sports of our
youth. For instance, nowadays, after we have gone through the
operation of "winding up and pegging down our top in the
ring, say eight times running, our improved minds tell us that we
have extracted all the juice out of that lemon," and there is
nothing more to express, thereby spoiling all our fun in that direc-
tion forever. How true it is that where ignorance is bliss 't is folly
to be wise." Boyhood is the age of anticipation, which, again,
knowledge and experience ruin and dissipate forever. Take, for
example, the ecstasy of lying awake on Friday nights contem-
plating the coming" joys of Saturday. There is no pleasure equal
to it. The real bliss of our holiday, when it actually arrived, did
not compare with the ideal presentment of it; indeed, it was no
pleasure at all if it had happened to be a rainy day, and this pleas-
ure consisted in our want of knowledge of the true facts of the
case. Youthful disappointments, too, are easily discounted," and
in that unsuspecting era, having no knowledge, we recovered from
them as easily as we did when we bark'd our shins."
There are many occasions in maturity when a man's feelings are
identical with those of his boyhood. I remember how I disliked
strangers and fled from their society, how I hated to be questioned,
and shrank from exerting myself where I was unacquainted, and
how unpleasant it used to be when called from the play-ground into
the drawing-room of Auton House, to be asked my name, and if I
could spell cat," etc. I smile to myself nowadays when I think
how little I am changed from that early period. For instance, when
I enter a modern ball-room and see before me the spacious apart-